There are only five Master Butchers in SA. Here's how to become one.

Business Insider SA
Shoprite Master Butcher (Shoprite)
Shoprite Master Butcher (Shoprite)

  • There are only 55 master butchers in the world and five of them in South Africa.
  • You will need at least 10 years' experience in the meat industry to become one.  
  • Shoprite has launched the Master Meat Artisan Programme aimed at training 250 of the Group's qualifying butchery managers over the next five years.
  • As Britain suffers a shortage of butchers due to the pandemic, there might be some opportunities in the global market.
  • For more stories go to

With a Covid-19 shortage of butchers and slaughterers in parts of the world including Britain, a career in the meat industry, especially as a master butcher, is not looking like a bad idea.

A master butcher is a specialist who trains others in the field.  

They are conversant in meat operation processes, from farm to fork, and know how to cut all types of beef, lamb, poultry, veal, and pork.

People who hold the position know almost everything in the butchery, and can run an entire department. This includes purchasing meat products, and down to cutting and packing that meat for distribution or sale.

While there is no set course to study to become a master butcher, obtaining the title takes many years of experience.

Currently, there are only 55 Institute of Meat accredited master butcher in the world and only five in South Africa, all of whom work for the Shoprite Group.

How to become one

In South Africa, the Shoprite Group has taken it upon itself to create Mater Butchers by launching the Master Meat Artisan Programme endorsed by the United Kingdom's Institute of Meat.

The programme takes a year to complete and requires participants who have 10 years' worth of experience in the meat industry, with at least five as a meat market manager.

Participants will need to build a portfolio of evidence that includes modules on butchery expertise, business acumen, and food hygiene and safety among other competencies.

As of August 2021, the group started training its initial intake of 52 of its qualifying meat managers to join the exclusive global club of Master Butchers, with the UK's Institute of Meat being involved in the quality assurance of the learning programme and learners' achievements.

"The Group already trains some 200 people a year in butchery skills to ensure an adequate supply of talent into its stores' Meat Markets across the country.

"The new programme, endorsed by the United Kingdom's Institute of Meat, will ensure its butcheries continue to enhance the Group's competitive advantage in this area," said Shoprite.

Shoprite hopes to enrol 250 of its qualifying butchery managers in the programme over the next five years.

Global opportunities

The meat industry has been heavily impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, with the likes of Britain facing a serious shortage of butchers and slaughterers, forcing the industry to operate at 25% reduced capacity.

In the absence of butchers, this will possibly result in the culling of hundreds and thousands of pigs within a few weeks.

It also means Christmas meat shopping may be affected in the region unless the British government issues visas for more butchers to enter the country.

So far, the country has announced plans to issue temporary visas for 5,500 poultry workers (alongside 5,000 foreign truck drivers) in efforts to deal with the shortage, but have not mentioned plans to bring in workers in other sectors.

Get the best of our site emailed to you every weekday.

Go to the Business Insider front page for more stories.

Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo