Overview of the role

Working in a butchers, butchery department or meat processing plan.

Details of standard

Butchery is one of the oldest crafts in the world, and is often where innovation meets tradition to create an industry full of character and camaraderie that plays a critical role in our social and economic future. A successful butcher must demonstrate dexterous knife skills together with craft to be able to produce the most cuts to make every carcase profitable.

Butchers work in the meat and poultry industry, which is worth several billion pounds in the UK and employs thousands of workers in the farm to fork supply chain. Qualified butchers can look forward to rewarding careers in a range of environments with different types of employers.  Employers include both processors and retailers. Processors range from multi-national processing businesses supplying meat or meat products to, for example: large food  outlets, supermarkets and  hotel chains; to smaller processors supplying for example, independent/local food businesses. Retailers could include supermarkets, independent retailers and farm shops. Those with an entrepreneurial spirit may be particularly attracted to butchery as the sector relies on a high proportion of small businesses, offering the potential for experienced butchers to set up on their own.

Butchery is a highly skilled profession steeped in tradition and butchers will display understanding about a range of meat species and the various techniques needed to process and/or produce products. In addition, butchers will be able to cut, prepare, package and present meat products to the standards required of the business and specialist needs of commercial and/or consumers. Butchers will have a range of skills, knowledge and behaviours that can lead to rewarding careers in the butchery industry, not only in the UK but across the world.

The core knowledge, skills and behaviours

a. Butchers will possess the following CORE knowledge and understand:

  • The development of the meat sector leading up to the modern day, including its values, culture, traditions and connection to membership bodies and professional institutions
  • The principles of butchery; including the selection, procurement, provenance and handling of livestock leading to welfare and associated lairage and slaughter practices, including Halal and Kosher
  • The principles of waste minimisation, saleable yield and predictive costing methods
  • The meat and poultry marketplace including the supply chain/traceability functions and key legislative and  enforcement agencies that regulate the retail and/or process environments
  • The principles of meat and poultry species including knowledge associated with carcass by- products, primal, joints and muscles
  • The various craft and knife skills used for cutting, boning, trimming and mincing of meat including the use of relevant mechanical equipment as required
  • Cold storage, stock control and safe movement of meat and/or poultry in the butchery environment
  • Stock control, product pricing, quality assurance and meeting the expectations of customers &/or contractors
  • Health and food safety including hygiene both in personal terms and as part of the wider food sales/production environment
  • Methods for weighing products, controlling temperature, wrapping, sealing, packing, labelling and stock control of meat and poultry products for wholesale or retail sale
  • Employment, rights and responsibilities, including equality, team working practices and the importance of continuous personal development

b. Butchers will have CORE skills enabling them to:

  • Prove full awareness and adherence to health and safety regulations and/or additional requirements that may apply to their employer’s food business
  • Carry out a range of primary and secondary butchery skills involving the use of steak and boning knives, hand saws, cleavers, banding needles and other relevant hand tools used in the process of primal cutting, boning, slicing, dicing, rolling, trimming and filleting as used in their employers business
  • Produce meat and/or poultry products (as required) such as sausages/pies made to the specifications of customers or for sale to the public
  • Use machinery (as permitted) & other relevant cutting equipment including the ability to sharpen knives
  • Apply hand/eye co-ordination along with physical agility and manual handling of carcasses through the manufacturing/butchery process
  • Adhere to the legislative regulations that apply in the food industry plus the organisational policies and standard operating procedures that apply within the employer’s business
  • Display the ability to work in a team and individually as required in a busy environment with pre- determined deadlines and productivity targets
  • Maintain the quality environment; including product sampling, specification (including customer requirements), food safety compliance and traceability procedures in the meat supply chain
  • Support workforce development; sharing own knowledge and experience to in order to assist new recruits and/or inexperienced colleagues
  • Communicate effectively with customers, suppliers and colleagues displaying the excellent interpersonal skills required to perform the role to the required standard

c. Butchers will display CORE behaviours enabling them to:

  • Take appropriate personal operational responsibility for both health and food safety, apply safe working practices when using knives, hazardous tools and/or related equipment
  • Display a willingness to learn, solve problems & acquire new skills that will be applied in the working environment
  • Be punctual, reliable, diligent and respectful towards customers, peers and colleagues at all times
  • Show attention to detail, carrying out duties in a diligent way and taking account of efficiencies and understanding how these support the profitability of the business
  • Maintain the vision and ethos of the business, including performance levels whilst taking pride in work and fostering positive relationships with customers and colleagues


Apprentices must achieve Level 2 Food Safety Award, Level 2 Health & Safety in the Food Supply Chain Award, and Level 2 Knife Skills Award prior to taking the end-point assessment.