Organic turkey sales in Marks & Spencer are set to break the £1m barrier this Christmas for the first time.

Sales of organic turkey through its food customer ordering service are already up 40% on last year.

Steven Esom, director of food at M&S, said he expected in-store counter sales to be equally strong, putting the impressive figures down to consumers' increasing interest in animal welfare and ethical issues. "We upped our order for organic turkeys this year, knowing customers wanted an organic bird at Christmas," said Esom.

In contrast, rival Waitrose has confirmed it will not be offering organic turkeys this Christmas following the avian flu outbreak in November.

The supermarket had been planning to source 18,000 birds from two farms on the border of Norfolk and Surrey, but these birds were slaughtered because of the disease.

"Organic birds account for a small percentage of our total turkey requirements and we have plenty of other turkeys available ," said a spokesman. "Waitrose sources all turkeys from farms it knows and trusts. We were not willing to compromise these principles by sourcing organic birds on the open market from farms that we don't know."

All customers that had ordered an organic bird had been offered £10 voucher as a token of goodwill and the chance to switch to a free range bird, he added.

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