Rural History

Research Article

The Commercialisation of British Turkey Production


a1 Faculty of Humanities, De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH, UK


Since the 1930s turkey production in the United Kingdom has been transformed from a small scale, seasonal activity catering exclusively for the Christmas market, to an intensive mass production sector dominated by all year round producers, of which Bernard Matthews is the best known. This revolution in production methods reflects improved methods of disease control, enhanced nutritional understanding, and the development of more productive strains of turkeys with better conformation. These supply side changes have been accompanied by a succession of very successful marketing campaigns to persuade consumers of the merits of eating turkey throughout the year. This article investigates the reasons for the commercialisation of the turkey industry since the 1930s.