WITH ALL the brickbats being targeted at the meat industry from just about every corner, there is some Christmas cheer.

It seems that the traditional turkey remains as much in demand as it ever was, according to reports from various markets across Scotland which have been selling the annual favourite.

Turkeys have been selling strongly throughout the many sales and last weekend was a busy one for auction businesses, with crowds gathering to get into the Christmas spirit.

The annual festive Christmas poultry sale at Harrison and Hetherington’s sale, at Carlisle, saw almost double the usual numbers with this year having 462 entries, compared to just 251 last year. A busy ringside of buyers managed to keep the trade buoyant.

In contrast to some years, though, it was the larger turkeys that were in demand, as smaller birds struggled a little. The top price was £72 for a 10.2kg turkey.

“It was a great sale and with having more numbers, we did expect a slight dip in prices for smaller turkeys due to so many more being on offer,” said a spokesman for Harrison and Hetherington.

With everyone seemingly after larger turkeys this year, the heaviest weighed in at 19.7kg on two occasions, which sold for £68 and £58, respectively.

Lawrie and Symington’s Lanark market also held its annual consignment of turkeys last Saturday, with again a strong demand for large birds.

“Numbers were similar on the year, meeting similar trade as last year at Lanark. Good turkeys were selling well around the £70-£90 mark with a top of £95. The ring was full of buyers looking for a purchase,” said a spokesman.

Specialist farm butcher, Michael Shannon, of Damn Delicious, Thankerton, said he had a record-breaking year for the traditional Christmas bird, proving that the majority of people still want their turkey at Christmas rather than ‘meat-free meals’.

“It has been a mental year for us, selling out earlier than ever and that’s despite having more turkeys this year. This is the most we have ever sold – the demand is unreal, it has been a bumper of a year. We sell turkeys all across the UK and have experienced a huge demand,” said Mr Shannon.

Damn Delicious only sells its own free-range turkeys, so once it sells out – it sells out, you need to get in early, pointed out Mr Shannon, who added that, this year, he had to turn a number of customers away, being unable to cope with demand.

“I just wish I had more turkeys in. Insight is a great thing! The ‘meat-free’ campaigns seems to be settling down again now and over the last few months our sales have risen dramatically, so perhaps people are realising that going for better meat and buying local is good for themselves and the planet.

“People don’t realise how much work butchers put in at this time of year. It is a lot of work to gear up ready for Christmas, but when you have demand like this, it all pays off,” said Mr Shannon.