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Christmas: time to talk turkey

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Aust), October 2010–September 2015 (n=90,938). Base: Australians 14+

With Christmas just a week away, the more organised among us are starting to plan our festive-season menu. And for many people, that means turkey: so much so, that Roy Morgan Research data shows a distinct, recurring spike in turkey consumption over the December-January period every year.

Between October 2014 and September 2015, 6.2% of Australians 14+ ate turkey in an average seven days. Over the course of this 12-month period, there were discernible peaks and troughs: with January being the biggest turkey-eating month (12.0%) and August being the off-season (3.4%).

As the chart below shows, a similar pattern occurs every year: the proportion of Aussies eating turkey in an average seven days starts rising in December, hitting its peak in January as the nation polishes off its festive-season leftovers, then slows dramatically from February onwards.

Australia’s turkey-eating habits, month by month


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Aust), October 2010–September 2015 (n=90,938). Base: Australians 14+

Given that January is peak turkey-eating season, we profiled the Australians who reported eating turkey during January 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, and found that they tend to be older, Christian, and born in Australia.

Aussies aged between 50 and 64 years old are noticeably more likely than other age groups to eat turkey in January, with 16.2% of them tucking in to the big bird in any seven-day period during the month. Only the 65+ demographic (14.2%) comes close. Younger Aussies are less likely to eat turkey during the festive season, bottoming out among the 18-24 age bracket (5.3%).

Perhaps surprisingly, a slightly higher proportion of Australian-born Aussies (13.2%) eat turkey during January than Australians born in the UK (11.6%), while people identifying as Presbyterian (15.4%), Anglican (13.9%) and Methodist (14.0%) also come in above-average for seasonal turkey-eating compared with those of other faiths.

Andrew Price, General Manager, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“Along with pudding and prawns, turkey is one of the centrepieces of the classic, traditional Christmas lunch or dinner. Although many Australians choose not to have traditional festive feasts, our data shows quite clearly that many do – and many enjoy the leftovers for some time afterwards. When asked in January this year if they’d eaten turkey in the last seven days, 12% of the population said yes; whereas the overall average for the 12 months to September 2015 is a more modest 6.2%.

“However, like many meats, turkey doesn’t come cheap. With the price of a bird costing up to (or upwards of) $50 at the supermarket, it not surprising that people from the wealthier end of the socio-economic spectrum are more likely to be eating turkey at this time of year than less well-off folks. The fact that Australians of Christian faith are more likely than others to opt for turkey around Christmas is also noteworthy, suggesting that their festive celebrations are traditional in more ways than one.

“Turkey brands don’t need us to tell them that Christmas is a peak time for turkey eating (and, by association, purchasing) in Australia. However, only Roy Morgan Research Single Source can provide an in-depth understanding of who exactly eats this seasonal meat:  their demographics, their attitudes and their consumer behaviour, for starters. Armed with this knowledge, brands can then tailor their communications accordingly, perhaps even encouraging their target market to eat turkey at times other than Christmas.”

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About Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%