'The market is going back to Europe': Turkey farmer explains crisis to James O'Brien

24 September 2021, 16:41 | Updated: 24 September 2021, 16:49

By Tim Dodd

Turkey Farmer Paul Kelly tells James O'Brien how post-Brexit labour shortages are sending his market "back to Europe" as Christmas approaches.

It comes as the owner of the UK’s biggest poultry supplier has said the gas shortage, and a shortage of workers is going to affect the supply of Christmas turkeys.

Mr Kelly told James: "I've just been talking and talking about the issues we're going to have with Brexit and our labour shortages, and whilst we've just pleaded with the politicians... we're just getting 'we're sympathetic to your cause, and we take on board what you're saying'.

"But there's no communication, no action and it is an absolute car crash."

James then asked Mr Kelly to "put some flesh on the bones figure-wise".

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Mr Kelly replied: "As a Christmas turkey producer we're relatively small in terms of what we do. But the bigger guys - they've cut back half a million turkeys, because they needed a decision from the government [on] some seasonal work permits for turkey production, in June at the latest.

"And we started asking them two or three years ago in reality. March in earnest. So they made the decision because they need to put their turkeys on the farm in August, to supply Christmas."

Read more: Tesco warns Christmas panic buying could be 'far worse' than during Covid

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He continued: "The supermarkets will have no choice now but to go to the big factories in France, Poland, and Germany to fulfil the demand.

"So the market is all going back to Europe.

"Those very same workers that would've been doing the work here in UK packing stations, packing UK-farmed turkeys, will be doing it in Europe."

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