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NCB local abattoir survey highlights importance of sector and challenges it faces.

NCB Survey highlights the importance of the Abattoir Sector and challenges it faces. 


National Craft Butchers surveyed Small and Local Abattoirs throughout England, Scotland, and Wales in March to May this year. As founding members of the Campaign for Local Abattoirs and the Abattoir Sector Group we have been working on options to ensure the survival of Local abattoirs throughout the UK. The results of our survey have only reinforced the urgency of support for a successful network of small and local abattoirs throughout the UK.

Of the abattoirs surveyed 70% of owners are aged over 51, with 11% over the age of 66.

59% expect to close the business within the next 5 years if action is not taken.

56% do not have a succession plan or someone to take over the business.

Increases in one size fits all regulation, loss of income through hides and skins and lack of education on the meat industry as a skilled and attractive career choice is leading to a cliff edge in terms of skilled food business operators.

All the respondents are offering private kill and cutting and packing services. Without these, many small and rare breed farmers will be unable to get produce to their customers.

The local and small abattoirs are multi species abattoirs able to provide a kill service for multiple species for the same customer. 82% slaughter Cattle, Pigs, Lamb and Sheep, with 53% slaughtering Horned Cattle, 41% slaughtering OTM and 24% slaughtering game.

They are also local businesses providing valuable skilled careers for their employees, on average they provide 4 jobs for community per abattoir.

We need the government to acknowledge the important role of small abattoirs, to ensure urgent regulatory reviews by DEFRA and FSA are prioritised, to invest in the sector and safeguard it for the future. We believe this should include schemes to attract new generations into the Abattoir sector and meat industry as a whole, but we also need to ensure small businesses are not regulated out of existence.

National Craft Butchers are meat industry experts with over 130 years of experience representing independent butchers, farm shops, small abattoirs, processing and wholesale butchery operations as well as key suppliers to the industry.


This press release was issued by National Craft Butchers. For additional press information, please contact Richard Stevenson or Eleanor O’Brien on 01892 541412 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Test and Trace Exemption List

Self Isolation Exemptions

The latest Government announcement regarding exemptions from self-isolation for Critical workers is unlikely to apply to retail butchers. The exemptions are for small numbers of workers and are only applicable on application to Government departments.

The test that is applied when identifying if an individual could attend work is whether they work in critical elements of national infrastructure and whether their absence would be likely to lead to the loss or compromise of this infrastructure resulting in one or both of the following:

  • major detrimental impact on the availability, integrity or delivery of essential services – including those services whose integrity, if compromised, could result in significant loss of life or casualties
  • significant impact on national security, national defence, or the functioning of the state

Please be aware that whilst some staff in some supermarket warehouse/depots may be exempt if an application is made, this does not currently apply to retail staff in supermarkets!

We are of course aware of the importance all Craft Butchers play in their local communities and that the services you provide include processing, and may also include slaughtering or providing food to care homes and schools. In these cases you may wish to make an application for an exemption. If you wish to do so please bear in mind the following –

  • Applications must be made by the business to Defra - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Applications must be for named staff only and only staff who are vital, i.e the owner/manager or a butcher
  • Only staff who have been double vaccinated (and past 14 day point) will be eligible
  • You can not apply for all staff or even most of your staff
  • You need to provide the number of people who it is proposed would leave self-isolation
  • the roles those individuals need to perform (serving customers would not be allowable.)
  • the impact failure to do this would have and when this impact is likely to materialise (for example, is it already an issue or likely to materialise in the coming days)

If the application is granted the employee is only allowed to leave self-isolation to travel directly to work, fulfil their hours and travel directly home it does not enable them to stop self-isolation completely. They must also have daily testing, as an employer making the application it is likely you will be responsible for ensuring your employee and business meets all the ongoing criteria that Defra may put on the exemption.

For those who are not able to obtain an exemption or do not wish to then please bear in mind the following

  • As of 16th August staff who are fully vaccinated will not have to self-isolate unless someone in their household is positive (*subject to change by UK Govt)
  • You can minimise risks by encouraging staff to take regular lateral flow tests some even daily before work to help identify cases early.
  • Separate your team by distance wherever possible 2 metres is still required to avoid being classed as a close contact.
  • Make sure ventilation in premises is good
  • Support staff in getting their vaccines with flexibility in working hours and consider paid time off for vaccines.

We will of course keep you all updated as more information is released throughout the day or if anything changes,  but please call us with any questions.

NCB responds to National Food Strategy

National Food Strategy Reponse

National Craft Butchers welcomes the publication of the National Food Strategy. We agree that a balanced diet and less reliance on ultra-processed food is vital to the UK’s health.  We do not however agree that meat should be used as a blanket term. Scientific and medical communities all agree that meat is a key part of a healthy, balanced diet, full of essential vitamins and minerals.

We need to differentiate between intensively farmed animals, which can be part of the problem, and locally produced pasture-fed cattle and sheep which are absolutely part of the solution. In other words, ‘It’s not the cow but the how.’

We believe that the importance of domestic, high-quality, and traceable food production for the nation’s health and wellbeing should not be underestimated. This is the type of produce that our Craft Butchers excel in and we would recommend that customers who care about where their food comes from and how it is produced visit their local Butcher.  

NCB Legislative Director and Abattoir Sector Group Vice Chair John Mettrick noted the report’s recommendation that, ‘The Government should conduct a review of small abattoirs to ensure that the capacity exists to serve the expected increase in numbers of farms using livestock in their rotations.’ John added “This is a critical issue which must be addressed and is one we have been campaigning on for some time, most recently as part of the Abattoir Sector Group. Local supply chains are vital to flexibility and food security and Small Local Abattoirs are a vital link in this chain”

NCB would therefore go further and recommend a specific strategy to develop and support local and regional food systems, with greater investment in short supply chain infrastructure, as a key part of the National Food Strategy’s wider plan for healthy and sustainable food. This strategy would also deliver lower food miles and shorter transport times for animals.