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A Guide To Opening A Butchery

What you need to know before you start out as a butcher.

Butchers supply meat cuts to the public and to commercial enterprises such as restaurants and caterers. Butchers also manufacture meat products such as biltong, boerewors, pickled meat and cold meat products.

This article covers the following topics:

  • What you need to know
  • How toinvestigate your options
  • Where you can find training to become a butcher

What you need to know

Besides having to source and buy stock, taking delivery and/or collecting stock, you will have to know how to storing meat appropriately, know how to use machinery to prepare meat, have people skills in order to serve customers and to be able to offer advice on suitable meats, cuts, and preparation/cooking techniques.

Butchers will also be required to adhere to stringent hygiene regulations and to undertake general cleaning tasks in the meat preparation and serving areas. Specialist butchers may require particular skills and knowledge.

For example, Halaal and Kosher meat must be prepared in accordance with the methods dictated by Islam and Judaism respectively.

It’s important to know that a qualified “meat cutting technician” offer skills and knowledge that add real value to a butchery – for example through saving costs, maximising the yield from each carcass and the ability to creatively solve problems.

Investigate your options

There are a few options available to you when entering into the butchery industry. Decide if you are going to buy a franchise, existing business or starting up from scratch.

  1. Buying a franchise

If you start the business through a franchise you will have the benefit of a franchise consultant who can help with everything from getting the ball rolling with regard to non-disclosure agreements, strategy to implementation, how to develop the franchise and even go as far as to offer comprehensive franchise and entrepreneurial development training.

The best place to start is to contact Franchise Association of South Africa(FASA)

  1. Buying a going concern

Decide if you are going to buy an existing business or start one from scratch. If you buy a “going concern” the advantage is that there is a trading history, staff and equipment in place. If you take on a partner with experience or who is a qualified meat cutting technician, it will be much easier to run a professional operation.

  1. Start from scratch

If you choose to start a business from scratch, begin by visiting successful butcheries and talk to experts in the trade who are a gold mine of useful information about supply and demand, competitors and the industry in general. If you are new to the industry, you may also want to consider taking on an experienced partner in the business.

Where can I get training on how to become a butcher?

Training is essential and short training courses (two weeks) are available in South Africa. The training of butchery staff is addressed in the R918 ‘Regulations Governing General Hygiene Requirements for Food Premises and the Transport of Food‘ of the Health Act, 1977, as well as in the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Training is available at: