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Job Photographs

  • A man, wearing a white protective suit and a hard hat, is cutting an animal carcass using a large piece of cutting machinery.

    Using a high-powered band saw to cut up an animal carcass.

  • Somebody, wearing a white protective suit and a blue helmet, is packing large pieces of meat into boxes.

    The meat is packed for distribution to retail butchers.

  • A group of people, all wearing white protective suits, helmets and gloves, are standing on either side of a long work bench.  They are cutting up pieces of meat.  Some blue plastic crates are piled up on the floor beside them.

    The larger parts of the carcass are sorted and cut into joints.

  • Somebody, wearing a white protective suit, a blue helmet and a hairnet, is writing on a sheet of paper on a clipboard.  He is resting the clipboard against a metal chute.

    Completing a work progress sheet for the shift.

  • Butcher - Wholesale

Butcher - Wholesale


Wholesale butchers cut, store and pack meat. They do not usually have direct contact with members of the public; they provide supplies for retail butchers, supermarkets, hotels and restaurants.

Also known as

  • Wholesale Butcher

Work Activities

As a Wholesale Butcher, you will cut and pack meat in bulk for sale to retail and catering butchers, restaurants, supermarkets, hospitals, schools and hotels, for example. This could include meat for export to overseas customers.

Meat such as lamb, beef and pork is cut from a carcass into various sizes and then carefully stored in boxes and refrigerated or frozen until sold. Portions might need to be cut and weighed carefully to make sure they are exactly the right size for the customer.

You use equipment such as band saws (for cutting frozen meat) and sharp butchering knives. These have to be handled carefully to avoid accidents.

You are responsible for cleaning tools and working areas during the day. You must maintain hygienic working practices at all times. This includes washing your hands between each type of job.

Meat is kept in cold stores before it is despatched. You have to monitor the temperature of these cold stores and check that they are working correctly, to make sure that legal requirements are being met.

You will wear protective clothing including overalls, hats and wellingtons at all times. You wear insulated clothing when working in cold stores.

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

To become a Wholesale Butcher, you will need to be able to:

  • maintain a high standard of personal hygiene
  • be comfortable handling raw meat, animal tissue and meat products
  • pay attention to detail
  • work in cold conditions
  • lift heavy boxes containing meat

Pay and Opportunities


The pay rates given below are approximate.

  • Starting: £16,500 - £18,000
  • With experience: £18,500 - £21,000
  • Senior Wholesale Butchers earn £22,500 - £24,000

Hours of work

Wholesale Butchers usually work 40 hours a week, with early starts and early finishes (around 5 am to midday).

Where could I work?

Employers are private wholesale meat companies. Wholesale Butchers can also use their skills within other meat operations, for example, manufacturing butchers and meat-cutting factory work.

Opportunities for Wholesale Butchers occur in some towns and cities throughout the UK.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised in local newspapers, on job boards and large employers' websites, on Find a Job and at Jobcentre Plus.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

You can enter this career by applying directly for vacancies with wholesale meat companies.

An Intermediate or Advanced Level Apprenticeship is a great place to start. Take a look at our information article 'Apprenticeships – How do I apply', for more details about applying for apprenticeship positions.


You would normally train on-the-job or from work-based training. New entrants need to obtain food safety qualifications at level 1 or 2.

This will be followed by food safety training in the workplace, including Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) training.

If you would like some training, City & Guilds offer a level 3 qualification in proficiency in meat and poultry industry skills. The units you could be studying include:

  • carrying out sampling for quality control
  • principles of adding value to meat and poultry products
  • principles of freezing methods in food technology
  • monitoring and controlling the reception of livestock
  • monitoring an automated meat/poultry processing system
  • maximising sales in a food environment
  • setting up and maintaining food retail operations
  • planning and co-ordinating food services
  • diagnosing problems in food operations
  • monitoring product quality in food operations
  • principles of butchery
  • principles of meat science

Other courses could be available in your area.

Some companies provide total in-house training; others provide the practical training while a college teaches the theory content.

Work Experience

Some entrants have developed relevant skills by working in food preparation.


Wholesale Butchers can progress to Team Leader, Supervisor and Manager posts.


To get onto an Intermediate or Advanced Level Apprenticeship, you’ll usually need five GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, possibly including English and maths.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.


Some entrants have developed relevant skills by working in food preparation.

Intermediate Level Apprenticeships and Advanced Level Apprenticeships might be available in your area.


  • 21% of wholesale butchers work part-time.

Further Information

Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far

National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)

Tel: 0800 015 0400



Skills Development Scotland - Modern Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 9178000



National Skills Academy for Food & Drink

Sector Skills Council for the food and drinks industry



Tasty Careers

Food and drink careers



The Food and Drink Training and Education Council (FDTEC)

Address: PO Box 6404, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire LU7 6DX

Tel: 01525 371641



Worshipful Company of Butchers

Address: Butchers' Hall, 87 Bartholomew Close, London EC1A 7EB

Tel: 020 7600 4106



Livestock & Meat Commission for Northern Ireland (LMC)

Northern Ireland Enquiries

Address: Lissue House, 31 Ballinderry Road, Lisburn BT28 2SL

Tel: 028 9263 3000


Be a Butcher

Tel: 01892 541412



Scottish Meat Training

Scottish enquiries

Address: 8-10 Needless Road, Perth PH2 0JW

Tel: 01738 637785



Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 028 4844


Croeso i Gyrfa Cymru

Dewiswch iaith


Welcome to Careers Wales

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