Written by By Jonathan Chang, CNN
It’s the moment Brits have all been waiting for. Brexit time.
But according to Britain’s East Anglian poultry industry, before Christmas, turkey meat was a scarce commodity.
“We had nowhere to sell it to, and where we did, it was just so badly discounted that we have no idea how it got there,” says Simon Lucas, chairman of the East Anglian Poultry Federation.
Thanks to a boom in demand for the best quality poultry around Christmas, supplies were depleted, but they’re now back on track.
But don’t get your hopes up for a post-Brexit turkey shortage.
Channing Armstrong, a fowl expert at the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), who sits on the Pork for Britain Food committee, says an international effort to reduce production is to blame.
“Turkey production has actually declined over the last 10 years, mainly as a result of issues that Turkey production has at times had with pests, disease issues and Malthusian concerns about the real likelihood of Turkey being able to keep up with demand on an ongoing basis,” she explains.
“The expectation is that this international decline in Turkey production is now set to increase.”
READ MORE: Britain – Where Brits head to eat. Do you know where?
How serious is the crisis?
The most popular British Christmas turkey meat, turkey breast, has a retail price around £5.50 (US$7.70) — fairly cheap, but a huge 15% more expensive in the US.
Charles Morton-Black, a British chef and author, says that at one supermarket he heard that it was so heavily discounted that bird meant bird meant, well, bird.
“I think there’s a lot of froth about this, but it’s clear that there has been a problem in availability of British meat,” says Morton-Black.
“What they need to do is look at regulations and what regulations are on beef but not chicken, and look at various things, including lifting export tariffs.
“Turkey is a very different animal, so it does need a different classification in their regulations, and tariffs, because the European Union is anti-Turkey right now.
“They’re actually trying to build a relationship, but they are in a terrible place. Turkey has the last major food to America at the moment, which is a weakness, not a strength.”
It may seem like a small thing, but when the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) cracks down on the flock, it has quite a big impact on people’s shopping lists.