By Aimee Mahony, NFU Chief Poultry Adviser
I’m writing my latest column on #buymyturkey day. An annual event where the NFU promotes all things turkey related and encourages members of the public to purchase a British whole bird to enjoy on Christmas Day. Whether purchasing a traditional festive centrepiece from your local farmer, a butcher, or the supermarket – the message is of the campaign is clear – to back British farming.
Now in its seventh year, the social media campaign has grown from an idea discussed around the table with a group of seasonal turkey producers to a widely recognised day of promotion. This year for the first time we took to the streets of Birmingham (with a giant turkey mascot) to talk to people about their plans for Christmas dinner and to find out how much they knew about British farming. This type of engagement is key to help formulate future campaigns and it was certainly quite comical to hear people trying to give their best gobbling impressions!
The serious message centres around promoting awareness of the hard work and dedication that British farmers put in to producing food for the nation to enjoy. Whilst the cost-of-living crisis means there’s always one eye on the price, recent survey results show that animal welfare and environmental credentials are still two of the most influential factors when consumers choose what to put in their shopping basket. This was a theme picked up by numerous speakers at the recent Egg and Poultry Industry Conference.
In relation to this, a poignant remark during one of the EPIC presentations was made by Sarah Dean, Chair of Noble Foods who said that consumers spend an average of thirteen seconds at the egg fixture in the supermarket. If you’ve been into a retail store recently you may feel agnostic about the messaging that accompanies the products for sale. Compared to other countries the shelf edge messaging in the UK is quite bland and this may be one areas that could be revitalised in years to come.
So do we need to do more to tell the great British consumer about where their food comes from? I think the answer is yes, but caution must be taken against the overloading of information and conflicting messaging. It’s not necessarily an easy conundrum to solve otherwise it would have been done so already. Nevertheless we all have a role to play in telling the brilliant story that the poultry sector must share and campaigns such as #buymyturkey may start as an idea aired in one small meeting but they can develop and grow and I’m excited to see where we can take this important work in the future.