Bernard Matthews Farms has slumped into the red on the back of high feed costs, extreme weather and a struggling European economy.

The Norfolk-based turkey giant today reported an operating loss of £6.6m for the 18 months to 3 July 2011; it had previously made a £2.5m profit for the 12 months to 3 January 2010. Group sales for the 18 months to July 2011 stood at £470.8m, compared with £330.5m for the 12 months to January 2010. Bernard Matthews recently changed its financial reporting structure, so it is not possible to make direct year-on-year comparisons of its results.

“Performance was adversely impacted by high feed costs globally, extreme winter weather in the UK (which affected bird growth rates) and the challenging European economic environment,” the company said in a statement.

However, it added business had picked up significantly since mid-2011, with strong sales over Christmas and profits in the UK at their highest level since 2006. “We believe there remains significant potential for growing turkey consumption in the UK as the meat continues to match consumer trends on health and affordability,” said Bernard Matthews group CEO Noel Bertram. “That said, the economic outlook remains uncertain and household spending continues to be squeezed. In light of this, we continue to review our cost base.”