Preston businesses report early demand for Christmas items but play down any shortage fears

Local businesses say they have not seen panic buying yet, nor will there be any need to.

Friday, 15th October 2021, 2:31 pm
G.Rowles Butchers opened their Christmas book early due to customer concern but say there is no issue with supply.

As national supermarkets have reported an increased demand for Christmas products already, butchers and meat suppliers in Preston say, although they have noticed an early demand, there is no need to worry about supply for Christmas this year.

Last week, Aldi reported selling four times the normal amount of frozen turkeys for this time of year and 45% more Christmas puddings, whilst Waitrose said the number of people who have already booked their Christmas delivery slot is about double the figure at this time compared to 2020.

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Reilly's Butchers also says they haven't been affected by any supply problems, but they have seen earlier orders than normal

This demand comes as labour shortages have left strains on supply chains, and led to warnings by poultry farmers, however smaller businesses in Preston say they are not concerned about supply, even if their customers appear to be.

Paul Reilly, the owner of Reilly’s Butchers in Ribbleton, said: "Usually customers start ordering about November but we’ve probably got about 20 orders in already, which is a bit early, but it’s not been the panic that I expected.

"We’ve had customers asking if there’s a shortage and talking to my suppliers, there isn’t. My meats coming in, my orders have gone in, and I’m asking for the same as I always do, so there’s not a problem, there’s enough meat."

Another business based in Preston, G.Rowles Butchers and Delicatessen, opened up their Christmas book on October 1, a month earlier than usual, due to concern from members of the public ringing up regarding supply issues, however they too say the concern is unfounded.

Kara Johnson runs Johnson & Swarbrick's farm alongside her uncle, Bud Swarbrick, (left), and cousin, Adam

Joanne Bailey, the manager said: "We were having a few phone calls in September asking if people could get their turkey orders in so we said we’d open it up a month earlier but we’ve not had anybody crazy panicking, all our regular customers know we won’t let them down. Everything’s local, all our lambs are from the Longridge area, our turkey’s from the other side of Clitheroe, all our beef from around the Clitheroe area, so we’re not panicking at all.

"Some of our bigger wholesalers, where we get all our packaging from, say they’re struggling but when it comes to our products, it's all local so we’ve been assured that there won’t be a problem at all for us."

Johnson & Swarbrick poultry farm in Goosnargh, the producers of the famous Goosnargh Chicken and Duck, sell to members of the public as well as to numerous high end restaurants, and say they too have noticed changes in customer behaviour this year,

Office Manager, Kara Johnson, who runs the farm alongside her uncle Bud Swarbrick and cousin Adam, said: "For Christmas, the private sales are going as they usually would, but the restaurants have been ringing up 'saying will you have this' and they’re pre-booking turkeys and things, and in that respect they don't usually ring so early. For Christmas Day, they do book it in advance but not in September, it would usually be end of November, so they’ve been worrying about supply but it’s all the media that do this, scaremongering like they’ve done with the petrol."

Johnson & Swarbrick poultry farm say that restaurants have been putting in their Christmas orders much earlier than normal.

Despite there not being an issue with supply meeting demand, Kara warns people not to panic buy as there may be less surplus of both geese and turkey this year, due to the closing down of suppliers and staffing shortages.

She explained: "I am keeping a tighter watch on what's been booked already and what hasn’t, because there isn’t the surplus turkey or geese available as there has been in previous years. There is a particular shortage of geese and we’ve known that for the past 6 months, part of it's due to little farms stopping doing them, and obviously with the EU they can't get the things in, so it has took a toll on everything, but I think if we’re all sensible, it will be absolutely fine.

"As a smaller supplier we are confident we have got the correct numbers to supply our customers with."

A spokesperson for Crafted Meats, an online Preston based butcher that started in 2020, also believed that smaller businesses do not need to worry, they said: “It’s not an issue with produce, it’s staffing and drivers, but for us, we’ve not really seen much disruption, it's mainly the supermarkets and the big chains that are struggling the most. We’ve not really had much problem with getting our supplies, we know some of our suppliers have got staffing issues, but we’ve not seen anything drastically different from last year."

Michael Tomlinson and his son, Stewart, run Tomlinson's Turkeys- the family have reared turkeys at Salwick Hall Farm for over forty years.

If future supply chain issues does mean the bigger supermarkets are unable to cope with the Christmas demand, Michael Tomlinson, the owner of Tomlinson’s Turkey says local farms like his will still be able to cope.

Michael, whose Preston based farm supplies to around 18 local butchers, as well as members of the public, said: “A lot of people have been ordering turkey’s sooner, they were even ordering in September, but it’s a good thing, we will be fine for supply, and it’s encouraging for farmers that do produce farm fresh turkey’s to supply the market.

He added: "My turkey’s have never done any miles at all, and they are quality birds, far better than the imported turkey’s in shops."