Norfolk poultry firm invests for expansion

Turkey producer Traditional Norfolk Poultry (TNP) is investing �250,000 in new equipment to meet growing demand for free range birds.

Shropham-based TNP, which rears free range chickens and turkeys primarily for supermarkets, is on course for a 40pc increase in sales this year, partly because of rising awareness of animal welfare issues.

To meet growing sales the company has invested in a new chicken plucker, two packing machines, blast chiller and transportation modules to enable it to process more birds.

Production is also set to grow following an investment of about �60,000 in a new building to rear free range birds.

The company, which produces free range and organic birds from 25 farms across East Anglia, is set for �15m turnover in the year to next June, up from �11m last year.

Director Mark Gorton said: 'We have had a lot of Christmas orders for free range birds.

'Despite the state of the economy people are still looking to buy better quality pieces of poultry, especially for the festive period.

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'This year we have seen that dramatically increase, and we need this equipment to enable us to keep up with demand and guarantee 100pc supply to customers.'

He added: 'Every time you watch the television or read the papers there is a lot about healthy eating and welfare for animals, and eating free range produce, and that's what consumers want now.'

Despite the growth in free range orders, Mr Gorton said demand for the top end organic chickens and turkeys had dropped back by about 25pc in recent years.

But he said the company had been further boosted in the free range by major competitors choosing to exit the market to focus on core conventional production.

The company, founded 22 years ago, employs about 100, rising to about 200 in the run up to the peak Christmas period.