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Sainsbury's Orders More Turkeys This Year As Britain Faces Bird Flu Outbreak

Sainsbury's, Britain's second-biggest supermarket group, has ordered more turkeys for Christmas this year than last year, giving it a buffer in case avian flu hinders supply, its boss has said.

Britain is facing its largest-ever outbreak of bird flu and is seeing rapid escalation in the number of cases on commercial farms, raising fears of a shortage of turkeys for the Christmas table.

Bird Flu Fears 

"Avian flu is a serious issue and one that we're watching very closely and we're not complacent ... our teams are all over this," Sainsbury's chief executive Simon Roberts told reporters after the group reported first half results on Thursday.

Read More: UK's Sainsbury's Sticks To Outlook Despite First-Half Profit Fall

He said the group was well prepared.

"We've actually ordered more turkeys overall this year than we sold last year, so we've a buffer overall in our plan," he said.

Big Demand 

Also, frozen turkeys, which represent about a third of Sainsbury's turkey volume, had already been culled and frozen, he said.

Market leader Tesco said last month it expected to be able to satisfy demand for turkeys this Christmas.

Roberts noted that there were fears over turkey supply last year due to a shortage of poultry workers and CO2 gas.

"In the end ... we had plenty of turkeys for everyone last year, in fact we probably had a little more than we needed," he said.

Alternatives Advised 

He also highlighted a trend for shoppers to increasingly look at alternatives to turkey at Christmas.

"We've seen a real move into gammon and beef in recent years," he said.

News by Reuters, edited by Donna Ahern, Checkout. For more retail stories, click here. Click subscribe to sign up for the Checkout print edition.

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