Christmas dinner to cost more as turkey and ham shortage looms

A typical Christmas dinner. Photo: David Davies/PA Archive/PA Images
A typical Christmas dinner. Photo: David Davies/PA

Christmas dinner could cost Brits a lot more this year, as supply issues push up the price of traditional ingredients.

Few turkeys have been hatched this year, as eggs were lost “at a much higher rate than usual” in summer, thanks to high temperatures, business consultancy CGA said.

The July heatwave saw record-high temperatures in the UK and many other countries. In France, which supplies “a large proportion of the hatching eggs used by UK breeders”, cities also saw record-high temperatures.

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On top of this, many suppliers have chosen to switch from turkey to chicken sheds, leading to “substantial reductions in supply” and, as a result, higher prices.

"From a turkey perspective, the vast majority of sales take place over Christmas, which has caused producers to move to a more profitable alternative in chicken," Fiona Speakman, CGA's client director for food and retail, told BBC News.

Additionally, an outbreak of African swine fever in Asia and parts of Europe is expected to push up the price of ham, with forecasts predicting that up to a quarter of all pigs, worldwide, will ultimately have to be culled.

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This has already resulted in whole-pig prices rising by more than 10% between March and October, CGA said.

Wet weather and floods have also hit vegetable supplies, affecting final harvests of potatoes, cauliflower, Brussel’s sprouts and cabbage, among other seasonal vegetables.

It is “inevitable” that these cost increases will be passed on to shoppers, meaning Brits “will find their Christmas shopping trolleys put a big dent in their festive spending” this year, Speakman said.

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Shaun Allen, CEO of supply chain experts Prestige Purchasing, said: This is an expensive time of year for consumers, so the increasing costs on a number of traditional Christmas dinner items will be extremely unwelcome and will put pressure on margins for both operators and retailers in order to keep the costs down for customers over the festive period.”

However, with turkey and ham prices on the rise, “alternative” meats such as beef could see a “surge” in popularity this Christmas, Allen said.

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