Running a Butchery Business

Providing Africa With Its Favourite Cuts 

Meat is a favourite in most African countries and dependent on where you live the type of meat can be varied. Options range from beef, goat, lamb and chicken which are favourites and in some areas, there  is growing interest in rabbit and other birds.  When setting up your butchery, the type of meat you sell will be determined a lot by the culture of the community you live in. This does not mean you cannot sell new meat products but doing so will require a lot of education of the community before they can start consuming a different type of meat.

In urban areas, there is a growing trend of supermarket  delis providing meat however a larger population still prefers to buy from traditional butchers and markets. And even with this trend, there is still an opportunity for unique products from the traditional butcher and a  need of specialised services for the customer.

If you are not growing and fattening your own birds and animals, you will be able to get your meat from slaughter houses  and animals from weekly or monthly  farmers markets in your area. In this case, you would have to ensure you pay a fair price for the animal as the actual weight of the animal will only give you about a third of meat that you can sell. This is because half the weight is the head, hooves and offal and a further forty  percent of that is  the bones.

When buying from a slaughter house, you are able to choose whether or not to buy the offal and so can easily determine the price.  The best quality of meat would be that which you have been partially involved in its production where possible. We discuss this aspect of business in a separate section on animal husbandry.

Butchers not only supply cut meats to individuals and institutions (restaurants and caterers) but are also involved in production e.g. Supplying smoked and dried meats, biltong and other partially processed meats and condiments e.g. marinated cuts.


Location; this single factor can determine whether or not you are successful as a butcher.  Choose a location that is convenient for both suppliers and customers, with customers having priority. A high traffic location like a market, mall or nest to a supermarket gives you the best options. If you run a separate eatery or restaurant you may have more options for choice but in this situation, you would need to have a good reason a people would want to come to your butcher/restaurant as opposed to one that is on their way

The quality of meat; the quality of meat you are able to supply your clients with will determine how consistent they will be. Buy from reliable sources even if it costs you slightly more as this will determine whether of not you keep your clients

The range of products; determines the range of products early in the business so that you are able to determine the quality standards you require from your suppliers and what your clients will buy early on. Product variance will also be determined by your location, and transportation methods available. While you may be able to charge a premium for products that are not easily available locally it could also mean they are not available because the demand does not justify production. Where there is a justified gap it would be in your interest to produce to meet the demand.

Cleanliness; as with any food item the level of cleanliness will determine how whether or not you remain open.  Alongside this ensure the meat is well stored and the store meets the required health standards in your area.

Knowledge;  If you are not trained as a butcher having an experienced person in your team and understanding how to cure meat before selling is information that is indispensable and that will require that you take the time to learn and understand  for you to be effective in the business. Good business sense  especially in determining stock flow will ensure you sell your meat when it is at its best quality. Not knowing how to manage this and a good understanding of  meat processing may result in poor sales and losses.

Storage; Have sufficient facilities to store the meat depending on your client base. Depending on your business model, how soon the meat comes to you after slaughter and how long it takes before it gets to the client determine how large the premises needs to be and whether or not you need freezing partial processing.

Equipment; the quality, facility and size of equipment will determine what you are able to offer your clients. Simple equipment may cost you some clients, for example, using a saw to cut bones as opposed to hacking it and having bone splinters in the meat may cause a client to prefer one butcher as opposed to another. From the basic products (meat cuts) to processed meats (marinated meats, sausages) to meals all this will be dependent on the equipment you have.

Marketing; while depending on the local clientele can be a source of income, there is great value in targeting larger clients like hotel, restaurants and outside caterers.  Such clients will give you the volume business you need to expand and venture into new areas of meat processing.

Business Strategy; It is in your interest to ensure you start simple and build the business and axillary products as you go along. Offering too much, in the beginning, may compromise quality which is the most important aspect in your success. Sell only what you can do very and replicate this excellence in other areas of your business as you grow


There is a range of services that you can offer alongside in your butchery. The range is varied and can include;

  • Meat condiments
  • An eatery
  • Marinated meats
  • Recipes to go alongside new meats or cuts that you are introducing


A new outlet as with any other business will have to market itself. However the marketing starts long before you have set up the butchery as the choice of venue is crucial. A unique product or reputation for quality cuts as a result of your curing process will result in referrals. Developing unique products also give a reason for advertising especially if this is patented or licensed to be sold in specific outlets.

Traceability; if you are supplying pre-packaged and processed  foods then you will need barcoding  so that you can trace different packages of food.


In most countries you will be required to meet health standards in your country and so will  your staff. The premises may need to be inspected especially if you are processing the meat on a commercial level to supply other butchers. An environmental certification may also be required if you slaughter the animals and birds.

Your insurance will also need to cover your employees and you need employer liability insurance as the work requires the use of sharp knives and equipment.


There is an opportunity to capitalise on specific segment however if you decide you want to supply to specific groups then you will need to make the decision early when setting up your butchery to ensure all guidelines are met. Having a separate counter for kosher or halal meat may not really work and it is best to have the butcher branded as halal or kosher as this will not affect sales from the rest of the market that is not concerned with the slaughter process.


As the world focuses on healthy foods the source of meat is important for many people. In developed countries the source of meat is often an area of concern and it would be wise that as you build capacity you are able to grow your own meat or partner with farms. This is more relevant to small animals and birds in Africa. This ensures you always  have the best cuts and are able to lock in major buyers because of your superior quality.  Also, as the market develops licensing of products will provide butchers with the opportunity to go into mass production of unique products that they may cobrand with clients.


Butchers’ shops will require more in depth record keeping than lower risk food businesses, and the extent and detail of these records will vary depending on the specific activities carried out. A small outlet that disposes of its meet daily will also need less record keeping than a more robust outlet. As with cooking and restaurants, activities that could affect food safety should be considered when developing food safety management procedures, including how they are carried out and how the activities can be managed to ensure food safety. These includes:

  • cooking, cooling and subsequent storage times and temperatures
  • controlling cross-contamination from:
  • processes such as slicing and vacuum packing
  • cleaning and disinfection arrangements
  • personal hygiene requirements
  • water quality
  • management of food safety activities, such as:
  • details of suppliers and other traceability arrangements
  • staff training
  • complaint management
  • maintenance of equipment, including calibration (accuracy) of temperature monitors

A record of this information should be held along with a summary of the types and volume of products produced and the processes used and a plan for establishment showing layout, location of equipment with the direction of food flow.

Feel free to ask questions,
share your thoughts on the posts and
on any business, that is working in your region or country.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s