Rhug Estate expands chicken production to meet demand

UK poultry retail sales increased by 27% during April 2020 compared to last year
UK poultry retail sales increased by 27% during April 2020 compared to last year

The growing demand for chicken fuelled by the lockdown has seen one organic farm construct three new sheds to boost production by 25% a week.

Rhug Estate, a sprawling 12,500-acre estate situated in North Wales, has reacted to customer demand by increasing chicken production on-farm.

UK poultry sales saw a 9% growth during the first three months of 2020, but this has been surpassed by a 27% increase in the four weeks of April, according to Kantar figures.

Poultry category saw almost a million more shoppers over the four week period compared with last year and a 17% increase in trips – equating to 11.9 additional store visits.

This was reflected in processed meat and poultry which saw 1.1 million more shoppers and 11.2 million more trips.

The versatility of poultry has also been a draw for shoppers, with breasts, legs and wings showing strong growth of 35% on last year.

Because of this growth in demand, Rhug Estate has constructed three new chicken sheds, subsequently boosting production by 25% a week.

Chickens reared on the estate are slow maturing birds that free range on organic pastures for 12 to 16 weeks.

Lord Newborough, owner of Rhug Estate, said demand for organic chicken had outstripped supply from the farm, especially from online sales and wholesale customers during lockdown.

"It is reassuring to see that our customers are buying with their heart as our birds are hand reared in small numbers with plenty of space to roam naturally on rich fertile pastures,” he said.

Rhug Estate has also seen a surge in online customers since the pandemic hit the UK. Its organic chicken was out of stock for a number of weeks.

Customers are also now able to have produce delivered direct to their door, to ensure social-distancing.