The Christmas shoppers have been reassured that there will be “definitely” enough turkeys in stores during the Christmas season.
The British Poultry Council rowed back on warnings that there might be a shortage, saying there will be “a bird for anyone who wants one” this year.
With widespread labor shortages, the deadline for recruiting thousands of EU temporary workers is approaching.
The BPC estimates that about half of the visas provided have been used, but said that “will get us across the border”.
Richard Griffiths, head of the BPC, said that while there will be “a bird for anyone who wants one,” the public would have fewer options to choose from.
“We have been able to streamline products and reduce diversity so that overall volume is improved,” he said.
“The focus is on whole birds and very simple crowns and roasts.”
In September, the government made 5,500 visas available to foreign workers as a temporary solution to help the poultry industry.
According to the BPC, 2,500 to 3,000 applications were received, far fewer than the 5,500 visas originally estimated by the industry.
But Mr Griffiths says the industry will not face turkey shortages thanks to a reduction in the number of birds being reared and producers who manage to hire some local EU seasonal workers with settlement status in the UK.
For Paul Kelly, the owner of KellyBronze, a turkey producer in Essex, the government’s temporary visa made all the difference as he now has all the workers he needs to get through the holidays.
“Christmas is saved. I just wish they did it sooner, ”he said. “This job cannot be done without seasonal workers. People tell me you should hire local people. Well, I have four weeks of work this Christmas. So how can I expect people to quit a full time job for a month?
“We’re a seasonal farm, just like raspberries and strawberries, and we need people to help with our harvest.”
Mr Kelly was able to recruit 63 mostly seasonal workers from the EU and needed 22 more through the government’s emergency program.
Fear of festive shortages has led many UK shoppers to buy turkeys much earlier. UK shoppers spent £ 6 million more on frozen turkeys last month compared to last year, according to data from Kantar.