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The British Slaughtering Industry: A Dying Business?


Michael Broadway

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Journal Article


Earth, Environmental and Geographical Sciences


Slaughtering cattle, sheep and pigs was, until the second half of the twentieth century, an activity that was widely dispersed throughout the United Kingdom, with much of the work being completed in small butchers' shops. But in the post-Second World War period, new highly specialised companies have emerged to dominate the slaughter industry. This structural change reflects the rising level of capitalisation required to meet new industry hygiene regulations and the demands for a standardised product from restaurants, the hospitality industry and supermarkets who have replaced butchers as consumers' primary source of meat. This article uses the concept of food regimes to examine recent structural changes within the slaughter industry and whether a new geography of slaughtering has emerged. The results indicate that despite thousands of plant closures in the past 40 years, cattle and sheep slaughter remains widely dispersed, while pig slaughtering has become a more specialised activity with a high level of concentration in the eastern counties of England.