Starting a butchery business is a profitable and highly rewarding venture. The butchery is one of the oldest business models known to omnivorous man. It is a remarkably versatile and diverse business model that can range from a very small outlet to great commercial multinational corporations. Because of our love of meat, it is one of those enterprises that is unlikely to ever go out of fashion. This is notwithstanding the onset of the vegans and vegetarians. The modern butchery does not merely chop up pieces of meat. It also engages in a technical process which produces various products such as boerewors, pickles, biltong and patties. In this article we explore some of the important prerequisites for becoming a successful butcher in the modern age.

Get your supply chain right

They say that your butchery is only as good as the stock you have. This means you should identify farmers who go through the right production process. Organic meat is the preferred choice in these times but you could do just as well with a well-supervised mass production unit. When you have selected the farmers that you will partner with, you will need to make arrangements for delivering the stock. Remember that meat is a perishable animal product and can go bad pretty fast. If you do not store the meat under the right temperature, then the meat could end up being unfit for human consumption. In some instances, it is even preferable to purchase your own refrigerated cars to use for distribution. These trucks will require good maintenance.

Develop certain technical faculties

Operating a butchery business requires both business and professional skills. For example, the cutting process may take you years to master and yet it is a prerequisite for good produce. The commercial enterprises have largely mechanized most of the processes. So with the right machinery, you may be able to get exceptional meat. You will need to learn how to use all the machinery correctly.

You also need to master the art of selecting the best cuts for the customer. The days of simply partitioning up animals for display are over. Consumers in these times are very specific about the cuts they want and how they want them to be prepared. Meat preservation skills and equipment could also be a useful addition to your stock of material. Some customers go as far as asking for advice on the most appropriate cooking methods for given cuts. You should have this information at hand. In other words, running a butchery business calls for a high level of expertise and experience.

Health and safety

Given the fact that meat is designed for public consumption, there is a high risk of health problems if the preparation process is not undertaken correctly. That is why there are many regulations that govern the conduct of butcheries and licenses that allow someone to start a butchery business. You should make an effort to ensure that you have all the requisite permits. Put measures in place to ensure that you do not lose the permits and licences due to poor performance in certain areas of the production process. Your work area must be kept clean and sterilized at all times in order to maintain the highest hygiene standards. The meat preparation and service board must follow the protocols for the prevention of food poisoning. Therefore, it’s better to set aside a budget for cleaning materials and personnel.

Hanging meat

Hanging meat

Specialty niches

To make your butchery business more profitable and to access a much more loyal customer base; you may consider the possibility of specializing in certain niches. Some of these include organic meats, Kosher and Halal. The sourcing process and meat preparation for these specialties is of critical importance. You may even have to hire an expert in order to satisfy the customers. On the other hand, the requirements might be so specific that they become mutually exclusive.  Keep monitoring the purchasing patterns of your customers in order to ascertain which niches are sustainable over the long run.

The meat cutting technicians that you use should be trained and experienced in the job. Train them on issues of efficiency so that they do not waste meat unnecessarily and to ensure that they increase the yield per carcass. In these times of ethical living, many consumers are happy to consume delicacies so as to reduce the possibility of wastage.

Make sure you have a comprehensive butchery business plan

The failure to plan is the beginning of business failure. The butchery business plan must be clear and succinct enough to give your potential partners, clients and investors an overview of what your objectives are. At the same time, it must be detailed enough to explain the nuances of the business that you propose. At the very minimum you need to have the following included:

  1. The mission, vision and operational strategy
  2. Market Analysis And Customer Segmentation
  3. A business case showing that the business is financial viable and sustainable
  4. A marketing and customer care plan
  5. An organizational chart and human resource policy
  6. A three-year expansion outlook
  7. A risk and rewards Analysis

You will need to make an informed decision about the business type that you will adopt for your butchery business. Each of the different business entities requires very specific application processes for permits and registrations. The business type you select will determine who owns, runs and supervises the operations of your butchery business. It’s also better to have a fully functional¬†website for your butchery business.

Butchery Business


Budgeting issues and protocols

At the very start of your butchery business you need a fully kitted premises. This can cost anywhere between $10,000 and $250,000 depending on the level of specialization and the usage of modern technology. You will have to consider whether you will run your own slaughter house or whether you will pick up the carcasses from the depot. Include personnel costs that at a minimum cater for a head butcher, cutter, cleaner and sales person. It is advisable to be actively involved in the business right from the beginning. That is the time when fatal mistakes are most likely to be committed. If you choose to go via the franchise route, then you are more likely to be subjected to a fitness-for-purpose test before the head brand gives you the franchise. Some butchers prefer to retain their independence by rejecting the franchise business model.

The business case for a butchery

The butchery business is a lucrative opportunity precisely because it specializes in the provision of a product that is in high demand. Some cultures have a diet that is very heavy in meat (e.g. Europe and North America). That means that you are marketing a product that is already capable of selling itself. On the other hand, the upsurge in small family butchers mean that the competition is stiff. In order to retain your place at the top of the production pyramid, you have to ensure that you sell meat that is as fresh. The meat should also be of the highest quality even where preserved.  Above all, this is a social business which calls for constant contact with the general public. Therefore, your communication skills must good for you to be successful in the butchery business.