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The UK meat sub-sector includes: the slaughtering of animals other than poultry and rabbits; animal by-product processing; fellmongery; production and preserving of poultry meat; bacon and ham production; and other meat and poultry meat processing. There are many well-known companies, such as Anglo Beef Processors, Cranswick Food Group and Vion Food Group.

The meat sub-sector represents 21% of those employed in Great Britain’s food and drink manufacturing sector. It employs 88,800, with a further 30,000 working in the retail meat sub-sector. 62% of the workforce is employed in the production of meat and poultry meat products, 20% in the production and preserving of meat and 18% in the production and preserving of poultry meat. 10% of businesses employ 200 or more staff, 52% employ 10 or less staff.

There is demand for some specialist roles in the meat sub-sector, as employers find it increasingly difficult to recruit these workers. Demand is high for butchers, boners, meat cutters, food technologists, quality assurance roles, and engineers (the engineer’s role in this sub-sector requires a broader base of engineering skills; mechanical, electrical, and some computing).

Jobs in the sub-sector range from: production manager, quality assurance manager, butcher, boner, packer, butcher apprentice

Workforce statistics:

  • 69% of the workforce is male.
  • 89% of the workforce is white and 11% other ethnic minorities.
  • 25,000 migrant workers (non-UK nationals) are estimated to be working in the sub-sector
  • 19% of the workforce is aged 20-24 years and 15% is 25-29 years.
  • 36% of the current workforce will be eligible for retirement within the next 20 years.
  • 6% of the workforce has some form of disability.
  • 9% of the workforce has a degree or equivalent qualification.
  • The majority of the workforce has ‘other qualifications’ (32%).
  • 22% of the workforce has no qualifications.
  • 94% of the workforce is employed full-time.

Source: Improve AACS LMI report 2010 and Meat Labour Market information profile 2009/10

Meat production workforce, 2000 and 2007


Source: Meat Labour Market information profile 2009/10, page 2. Data derived from the Annual Business Inquiry 2000 and 2007.

Occupational profile of the meat production workforce, 2008


Source: Meat Labour Market information profile 2009/10, page 6. Data derived from the Labour Force Survey 2008.