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Almost 60 per cent of small abattoirs set for closure in next five years

More than half (59 per cent) of small abattoir owners are preparing to shut up shop over the next five years, new research from National Craft Butchers (NCB) has shown.

Almost 60 per cent of small abattoirs set for closure in next five years


Small and local abattoir owners highlighted increases in ‘one-size-fits-all’ regulation and a loss of income from hides and skins as key drivers of the decline in slaughterhouses.

 

The NCB survey shone a light on the precarious future of the sector, finding seven in ten (70 per cent) of abattoir owners are aged over 51, with just over one in ten (11 per cent) over 66.

 

And younger generations are steering clear of the industry, with 56 per cent of small business owners having no succession plan or someone to take over their business.

 

All of the respondents to the NCB survey offer private kill and cutting and packing services, which are vital to small and rare breed farmers.


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Christopher Price, chief executive of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, said: “This reinforces what RBST has been saying and Government has been ignoring for so many years.

 

“An increasingly sustainable livestock sector, particularly the rare and native breed sector depends on a network of local abattoirs which can handle small numbers of non-standard animals and return the fifth quarter.

 

“This survey shows we are still a long way from that.”

 

John Mettrick, NCB legislative director and vice chairman of the Abattoir Sector Group, told Farmers Guardian there was no ‘sense of urgency’ in Government about tackling the issue, with a Food Standards Agency programme to ease the regulatory burden being extended by two years, from three to five.

 

Late

 

“I am just hoping it is not too late,” he said.

 

“The last three years, a lot of the work from the National Craft Butchers and the Abattoir Sector Group has been trying to say to small abattoirs ‘hang on, we are trying to get a change.’

 

“But there is only so long you can continue to say that. The operators can see that.

 

“When they do not see anything change on the ground and they are still having to jump through the same hoops, it means they give consideration to stopping their businesses.”

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