FAMILIES in the North East may have to pay up to 20% more than last year for their Christmas turkey.
The inflation-busting rise is down to record prices of wheat and soya, which are used to feed the birds.
Independent producers have been the worst hit, while supermarket prices remain relatively stable.
Farmers across the region say this year’s wet summer, which led to a poor wheat harvest, is to blame.
John Foggin of Tosson Tower Farm, Rothbury, said a 20lb turkey from his farm would cost around £60 this year, up from just over £50 last year.
Mr Foggin, whose farm produces around 50 birds a year, said supermarkets might be able to absorb the rise in grain prices but independent farmers would have to pass it on to consumers.
“There’s been a big jump in the price of grain we’re buying,” he said. “We expected it because the harvests have been poor world-wide.”
One farmer even had to stop producing turkeys this year because of leap in the cost of feeding the birds. Alastair McDonald, who has been rearing Christmas turkeys for over 30 years, said he was “sad” to have to stop.
“But what can you do?” Mr McDonald said. “It was £320 for a ton of feed last year and now we’re told it’s £370.”
Angus Nelless of Northumberland Poultry near Rothbury, which sells turkeys wholesale, said the farm would try to keep consumer cost of their birds to a minimum but said a rise of 5-10% was inevitable. “It’s not just the feed, it’s the power to heat the incubators and everything,” he said.
“We’re trying to keep as good a lid on the retail price as possible.
“We know that things are getting more expensive for everyone else too,” Mr Nelless said.
Tesco said it had no plans to raise the price of their turkeys in the North East as it agreed prices with producers in the spring, before the cost of feed went up.
“On both fresh and frozen turkeys, prices are the same as last year,” a spokesperson for the supermarket chain said.
“Any cost increases in feed will not be reflected in the prices our customers will pay for their turkey this Christmas.”
Mark Fullerton, of Mr Fullerton’s Butchers in Grainger Market, Newcastle, said price increases had not put people off ordering the bird this year.
“No matter what price people have to charge for turkeys, people always buy them at Christmas because it’s tradition,” he said.
“They complain – and it is difficult because of the recession – but Christmas only comes once a year so most people are prepared to stretch a bit more.”
He added that prices of other meats had been rising over the same period.