Some consumers will have no option other than to buy a French turkey for Christmas if UK producers are unable to employ enough labour for processing, a major supplier has warned.
Paul Kelly, the managing director of KellyBronze, which produces hand-plucked, free-range turkeys, said the sector would be “hit massively” this Christmas because it relies on agencies who bring in labour from the EU that was no longer accessible.
Mr Kelly said: “Sad thing is, 30 years ago about 30 per cent of the UK turkey market was supplied by France.
“Since having access to EU workers the UK turkey industry has built up the farms and infrastructure needed to supply just about 100 per cent of the turkey the supermarkets need – and the supermarkets have been very supportive of quality British turkey production.
“Now, the French factories are rubbing their hands with glee as they can see all that business they used to have returning to them.”
He added: “The larger companies have made the prudent decision to reduce Christmas turkey numbers by at least 20 per cent, as they simply cannot process the turkeys without the seasonal labour to do it.”
He said that without settled status, the burden of expensive, “bureaucratic” paperwork has driven many EU workers to feel unwelcome and leave the UK.