On this week’s ‘Times Past’, RTÉ take us back to the 1977 and we learn all about turkey production and how it was a “big business”.
Back then over 700,000 fresh turkeys were being prepared to hit the Christmas market, with turkey’s selling for between 75 to 80 pence a pound!
There were also 126,000 frozen turkeys , readied to be put on sale back in 1977, with the higher production numbers due to lower production levels in the UK and Northern Ireland, We hear in this RTÉ archive that prices will not go down due to the increase in production, due to the increased exports to this market.
The report tells us that over 1,200,000 turkeys were already produced over the past 12 months, an increase of 155,000 on 1976. We hear that there are 6,500 turkey producers in country, with four plants producing over half of all turkeys produced.
We then meet a turkey producer, John, responsible for producing 30,000 bird a year. They take in the turkeys at one day old and we hear of the care young birds need in their early lives. Preparation takes months, to get them ready for the big day.
“The day of the housewife producing the turkey, I think that day is nearly gone. The cost of production is just too high, to take the gamble” said John.
The turkey producer the offers advice on what to look for when looking for the best turkey. He says the ‘housewife’ should look for a nice round, double-breasted, fat bird. He also said a “good, nice, white, well-finished bird” is the ideal colour when choosing your bird.
John then tells us of birds being produced at about 1,000 birds to day, with Christmas looming. The Report tells us that almost £10 million will be spent this Christmas, while the reports tells us that you may be spending up to 80p a turkey, unless you are shopping in Moore street where you can find a “bargain”.
“At the moment we are charging 70p a pound for prime quality hen turkeys, and for cock turkeys 58p a pound...I hope fresh turkeys this Christmas will be about this price”, said one market seller.
“We expect to sell about 1,600 birds” he added.
Times have changed a lot in the forty years that have passed. The cost of production for turkeys back then was 45 pence a pound for a fresh turkey, with prices up to 80p a pound. 1977, the year the humble housewife, lost out to the major turkey producers.
To watch the RTÉ report in full see here.