Farm Ireland

Wednesday 25 April 2018

'Marked jump' in customers asking for free-range birds

Roast Turkey Dinner
Roast Turkey Dinner
Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

With 800,000 turkeys to be gobbled up over the Christmas period, Irish consumers are sticking with traditional fare for the festive season.

Some 84pc of Irish people will eat turkey and ham on December 25, while the remainder will choose alternatives such as goose and duck.

But poultry producers have reported a much bigger focus on the provenance of their Christmas birds in 2013, with purchasers insisting that their birds are locally reared and match exactly what the label says, be that organic, free range or mainstream commercial Irish birds.

"There's been a marked jump in the number of customers ringing up to make sure that the birds are free range and what exactly does free range mean," remarked Conor Brannigan of Rodeen Meat and Poultry, Borrisokane, Co Tipperary.


"Since the horsemeat scandal, people are taking more care and interest in the food they are buying. That trend was already in place before the horsemeat episode, but now more people want to know exactly what they are buying."

Yvonne Fitzsimmons of East Ferry Farm in Midelton, Co Cork has also noted a growing interest in how their geese, chickens, ducks and turkeys are reared.

"Are they free-range birds? And they're definitely free-range?" is what her customers have been asking.

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"There are a lot of Italian turkeys on the market and people are becoming more aware of that so they are asking more questions," she said.

Around one in five turkeys eaten in Ireland this Christmas will be imported, with the majority of imports coming from Italy. Turkey production in Ireland peaked at 3.8m birds in 2005, but last year plunged to 944,000, according to Bord Bia figures.

Irish Independent