My watch list  

Bernard Matthews

Bernard Matthews Foods Ltd.
HeadquartersNorwich, Norfolk, England
Key peopleBernard Matthews, Founder
IndustryFood, Products
ProductsFood, Products
Operating income?
Net income?
WebsiteOfficial Site

Bernard Matthews is a food processing company headquartered in Norwich in Norfolk, England, United Kingdom, with 57 farms throughout Norfolk, Suffolk and Lincolnshire.[1] They produce and market turkey and other meat products, oven-ready turkeys, day-old turkeys, fish products and other poultry products.

The company was founded by Bernard Trevor Matthews in 1950.

Additional recommended knowledge


The business

As well as the UK, activities are carried out in New Zealand, Germany, France, Guernsey, Hungary (under the SaGa Foods label) and Poland.

Bernard Matthews farms 8 million turkeys every year in the UK, feeding them a vegetarian diet of non-GM crops from the company's own feed mills. After pressure from consumer groups and Greenpeace,[2] all fresh turkeys and turkey products have been non-GM fed since March 2001.[3]

As of 2005 annual turnover is over £400 million, according to the company's website.

Key dates


Agribusiness · Agriculture
Agricultural science · Agronomy
Animal husbandry
Extensive farming
Factory farming · Free range
Industrial agriculture
Intensive farming
Organic farming · Permaculture
Sustainable agriculture
Urban agriculture

History of agriculture
Neolithic Revolution
Muslim Agricultural Revolution
British Agricultural Revolution
Green Revolution

Aquaculture · Christmas trees · Dairy farming
Grazing · Hydroponics · IMTA
Intensive pig farming · Lumber
Maize · Orchard
Poultry farming · Ranching · Rice
Sheep husbandry · Soybean
System of Rice Intensification



  • 1950 - Company founded
  • 1955 - Its headquarters were moved to its present location, Great Witchingham Hall near Norwich.[4]
  • 1960 - Bernard Matthews entered the Guinness Book of Records as the biggest turkey farmer in Europe.[5]
  • 1971 - The company was publicly listed.[6]
  • 1980 - The company launched its first TV commercial featuring Turkey Breast Roast, with Matthews himself introducing the famous 'Bootiful' catchphrase in his thick Norfolk accent.[7]
  • 2000 - Bernard Matthews successfully fought off a take-over bid from US food giant Sara Lee.[8]
  • 2001 - The company was bought back by the Matthews family and taken private again.[9]
  • 2007 - The company's farm in Holton suffers an outbreak of the H5N1 strain of avian influenza.


Turkey Twizzlers

One of Bernard Matthews' products, 'Turkey Twizzlers', became a subject of controversy in January 2005, when they were singled out for particular criticism by the chef Jamie Oliver in his television series Jamie's School Dinners. Turkey Twizzlers are spirals of mechanically reclaimed turkey meat, water, pork fat and rusk, together with many more minor ingredients, designed to be reheated before serving.[10][11] The product became an emblem of the mass-produced processed food that Oliver wanted to remove from schools. In the wake of the programme, several major catering organisations announced that they would no longer serve Turkey Twizzlers in schools. However, sales of Turkey Twizzlers rose 32% in the aftermath of the campaign.[12]

Internet domain name

For four years the company was embroiled in a dispute over the use of the Internet domain name, which ended in a successful action through the Nominet UK Dispute Resolution Service.[13]

Animal cruelty

On 7 September 2006 two employees of a contractor working for Bernard Matthews were convicted of animal cruelty after being covertly filmed by a member of staff from Hillside Animal Sanctuary, playing 'baseball' with live turkeys. A vet who viewed the tape described the abuse as hideous, the worst he had seen in his 25-year career. One man was seen hurling a turkey while the other used a metal pole made for rounding up turkeys as a bat to hit it with."[14]

Their defence lawyer stated that their actions were part of a ‘culture’ at the Norfolk plant. The two men were each sentenced to 200 hours of community service. The sentences were later criticised as being 'derisory' by some animal welfare organisations.[15][16]

Avian flu outbreak

  The 2007 Bernard Matthews H5N1 outbreak was an occurrence of avian influenza in England that began on January 30 2007. The infection was caused by the H5N1 subtype of the Influenza A virus and occurred at one of Bernard Matthews' farms in Holton, Suffolk.

A range of precautions were instituted including a large cull of turkeys, the imposition of segregation zones, and a disinfection programme for the plant.

It emerged in a highly critical report from Defra that there was a series of biosecurity failings at the Holton plant, some of which were drawn to the company's attention in the past.[17]

Though the cause of the outbreak has not been determined, Bernard Matthews regularly transports turkeys and turkey products between the UK and its plant in Hungary, and the H5N1 bird flu strains found in Hungary and Britain are effectively genetically identical.

Consequences of the outbreak included bans by a number of countries on the importation of poultry from Britain, a sharp fall in sales of Bernard Matthews products resulting in workers being laid off and a collapse in confidence in the brand.[18]


  1. ^ Company history. Bernard Matthews.
  2. ^ It's Not Bootiful - It's Genetically Modified. Greenpeace.
  3. ^ Shoppers' Guide to Genetically Modified (GM) Food. Greenpeace.
  4. ^ Company history: The 50s. Bernard Matthews.
  5. ^ Company history: The 60s. Bernard Matthews.
  6. ^ Company history: The 70s. Bernard Matthews.
  7. ^ Company history: The 80s. Bernard Matthews.
  8. ^ Sara Lee pulls out of Bernard Matthews bidding.
  9. ^ Company history: The 00s. Bernard Matthews.
  10. ^ What's in a Turkey Twizzler, Guardian Unlimited, Wednesday March 23, 2005, retrieved 17 September 2007
  11. ^ The truth about Turkey Twizzlers by Anne Shooter, Daily Mail website, 22nd March 2005 , retrieved 17 September 2007
  12. ^ "Turkey Twizzler sales biting back", BBC News Online, 23 March 2005. 
  13. ^ Bernard Matthews Ltd –v- Jason McCluskey (aka Bernard Matthews). Nominet UK Dispute Resolution Service.
  14. ^ Employees play 'baseball' with live turkeys.
  15. ^ Inquiry call after turkey cruelty.
  16. ^ Turkey firm advert condemns abuse.
  17. ^ "Bernard Matthews faces prosecution for failures at bird flu plant", Philippe Naughton, Times Online, 16 February 2007
  18. ^ "Bernard Matthews loses sales", Daily Telegraph, 14 February 2007
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Bernard_Matthews". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
Your browser is not current. Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 does not support some functions on Chemie.DE