Retailers and customers must accept price increases for British turkey or face a Christmas shortage, according to industry bosses.

Prices could be up to 10%-20% higher this year than last, according to Andy Lewins, MD of Quality British Turkey. "The volatile wheat market will impact on the cost of production for this Christmas," he said.

Speaking at the British Turkey Awards, Bernard Matthews chief executive Bart Dalla Mura said rising feed costs were making producers think twice about laying down young birds. "Two-thirds of the cost of producing a bird is feed," he said. "All we ask is that consumers understand that food costs money and they must pay the right amount. And if they want fresh, local turkey at Christmas, they need to buy it all year."

Seasonal turkey farmers will hit a production peak in November when feed prices are expected to be even higher. Some 17 million turkeys were slaughtered in the UK in 2006, 11 million for the Christmas market.