The Problem

Over the past decade a third of the UK's small, local abattoirs have closed.

The Campaign for Local Abattoirs (CFLA) was established to help maintain and expand this network. 

It consists of various organisations and individuals who are gravely concerned about the escalating loss of local abattoirs, which leads to increased live transport of animals, a loss of local traceable meat, and a reduction of economic activity, particularly in rural areas. 

By producing factual information, we hope to persuade public opinion and government of the importance of our network of such abattoirs and the many benefits they bring.

I truly hope
that government and industry will grasp the
opportunities that lie ahead with some urgency,
and work together to offer a long-term future
for our diminishing network of local abattoirs
before it is too late.
— Phil Stocker, Chief Executive, National Sheep Association

What We've Achieved So Far

Abattoir Report  (February 2018)

Through the Sustainable Food Trust, a report was produced in 2018 on the current state of the UK's smaller abattoirs. The report can be viewed here


Submission to Defra's consultation on Health and Harmony (May 2018)

The UK is in serious danger of losing its local, traceable meat supplies unless urgent government action is taken. This is the stark warning given to Defra in a response to its recent Health and Harmony consultation, by an alliance of organisations and individuals concerned about the rapid decline of smaller local abattoirs.

In their submission to Defra the Campaign for Local Abattoirs (CFLA) grouping, including the Sustainable Food Trust (SFT) and National Federation of Meat and Food Traders (NFMFT), as well as smaller abattoir owners and other experts, describe the crisis facing smaller abattoirs. 

Smaller abattoirs offer a specialist service of Private Kill, where farmers bring their animals for slaughter and receive back the meat and offal for sale to their customers, who can be assured that they are buying local, traceable meat. Without the smaller abattoirs, this is simply not possible. As more close, so distances to the nearest facility increase, until it is simply not financially viable for the farmer, and so farm shops, farmers markets, local butchers and mail order meat businesses will also face closure. This cycle has now reached a critical level, with several blackspots around the country where smaller abattoirs simply do not exist. This leads to animal welfare issues where they have to travel further to slaughter.

As the CFLA paper explains, the benefits of smaller local abattoirs go way beyond simply slaughtering farm animals. The Public Goods they produce include more of the economic benefits within the local community, reducing environmental damage from long road journeys, offering local employment, and acting as a catalyst for new local businesses to develop.

The reasons for this crisis are complex, but include strong downward pressure on profitability from high volume abattoirs supplying mass markets at low margins; increased costs of waste disposal; excessive regulation hitting smaller businesses disproportionately and low prices paid to small abattoirs for hides and skins.

The CFLA paper uses information from the recent SFT report on the subject (see above). In its conclusions, the report calls on government to publicly recognise what a unique and vital part of the national food supply chain smaller abattoirs are; to establish an urgent in-depth enquiry to understand the many problems facing the sector; and with the help of the industry to come up with practical solutions, which could include mobile abattoirs which enable on-farm slaughter, especially in areas with no smaller abattoirs.

The CFLA submission concludes “It is essential that the smaller abattoir sector is viewed holistically and UK-wide. It requires a thorough understanding of the reasons for the continuing decline of the sector, and practical and effective measures which will facilitate its long-term sustainability.”

Read full submission here.

Friday 27th Session 1 The Future of UK farming-7227.jpg

Press Release: Joint Letter to Michael Gove Urges Action to Save Small Abattoirs

(August 2018)

Thirty-four organisations, reflecting a wide range of food, farming, consumer and nature conservation interests have written a joint letter to Defra’s Secretary of State, Michael Gove, asking him to take urgent action to save the UK’s network of smaller abattoirs, which are closing at an alarming rate.

The group ranges from the National Trust and RSPCA to the Scottish Crofting Federation, the Women’s Institute and the National Sheep Association. In the letter they point out that the existence of a network of smaller abattoirs enabling thousands of family farmers to supply meat and other livestock products to a growing number of customers, either directly or via retail and catering outlets, represents a huge national asset.

The Government has indicated that it prefers farm animals to be slaughtered close to the place of production [1], yet the statistics show that the opposite is happening. A third of small abattoirs have closed in the past ten years and closures are continuing [2]. A further 6 (10%) of small abattoirs have closed in the last twelve months, with the latest, Bakers of Nailsea, which has been serving farmers and butchers in Somerset for 120 years, closing its door for the final time during the last month.

Patrick Holden, Chief Executive of the Sustainable Food Trust, said, “The sale of locally-produced meat helps to keep many family farmers in business and has huge benefits for consumers and the environment. For the first time in my farming lifetime, Defra is genuinely striving to develop a more sustainable food system with additional focus on animal welfare. But that could come unstuck if we lose more local abattoirs. Without local slaughtering there will be no traceable local meat, it’s as simple as that.”

John Mettrick, Chairman of National Craft Butchers and owner of a small abattoir in Derbyshire [3], said, “We have hit a perfect storm of problems: increased costs, rock bottom prices for hides and skins, some gold-plated regulations, and excessive paperwork, much of it involving unnecessary duplication.”

Sara Jane Staines of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts said, “We need to be able to fly the flag for less but better-quality meat with a known provenance. We can’t do that without accessible abattoirs across the country.”

Michael Gove has acknowledged the problem facing producer-retailers who lose their local abattoir [4]. The signatories of the joint letter now want him to take urgent action to help the smaller abattoir sector, which is in danger of further contraction. This would include setting up a group to advise on how best to resolve the regulatory and other problems besetting smaller abattoirs in order to ensure their continued survival.

The Campaign for Local Abattoirs, [5] which coordinated the joint letter, was established by the Sustainable Food Trust and National Craft Butchers to highlight the current crisis in the supply of local meat.




For further information contact:

Bob Kennard SFT Policy Advisor and Coordinator of the Campaign for Local Abattoirs:

07415 855530

Notes for editors:

[1] In Defra’s consultation, ‘A call for evidence on controlling live exports for slaughter and to improve animal welfare during transport after the UK leaves the EU’, it states, “The UK Government would prefer animals to be slaughtered close to the point of production,” [see point 9, page 2].

[2] The Sustainable Food Trust’s report ‘A Good Life and a Good Death’ sets out the statistics and situation facing smaller abattoirs. Further information is available at

[3] John Mettrick and his abattoir featured in the landmark BBC Series ‘Kill it, Cook It, Eat It’, during which the slaughter of animals was shown live on TV and discussed with an audience.

[4] At the recent Hay Festival, Michael Gove was asked by a member of the audience what the solution was to the problem, to which he replied, “The solution, in a nutshell, is to build more small abattoirs.”

[5] Further information on the Campaign For Local Abattoirs is available here:

[6] For further information: On 3 July, members of the Campaign for Local Abattoirs gave presentations to a well attended meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare, chaired by Lord Trees. The cross-party MPs and Peers and the stakeholders present expressed significant support and interest in helping Defra find solutions to the problems facing smaller abattoirs.