Meat makes up a significant part of literally every Zimbabwean’s diet. From beef to chicken, pork, and so forth people love to have these as part of their lunch or supper meals. It comes as no surprise why starting a butchery business always thrives. In this article, though I shall be looking at starting a meat processing business – actually, a butchery business is somewhat a variation of meat processing. Anyways, I shall detail some of the important things you ought to know in this area.
What Is Meat Processing?
It is vital that I briefly look at what meat processing is. Meat processing entails several processes that are done to meat before selling it. These are processes such as slaughtering, cutting, packaging, and value addition (i.e. processing into other products). If you are looking to start a business that specializes in that then just know you are in the domain of meat processing.
When looking to start such a business there are several possible approaches. For example, you could enter a strategic partnership with someone who already has the infrastructure but has no capital. You could be starting from scratch to put together the business. It could also be that you will be renting a facility and using it to run your own meat processing business. In some cases it could be some franchising arrangement – the scenarios are several. What is it of utmost importance here is that you settle for an approach borne out of diligent and thorough research.
When it comes to key requirements, the top of the list is a building. As can be assumed you can build one or rent an existing one as an alternative. You will need a cold storage unit or you can alternatively just use freezer units – whichever is cheaper. Land space is also a must since you might actually have to bring live animals over before they are slaughtered. What is meat processing without cutting tables, knives, trolleys, crates, trays, racks, and so on? Electricity and clean water are also central to the smooth running of this business. You might also need specialized machinery for certain meat processing processes. Examples are grinders, vacuum filters, mixers, emulsifiers, sausage stuffers, tenderizers, marinaters, bone saws, and so on.
As much as meat processing can entail a significant level of mechanization, labour is a key thing. It is not just any labour by skilled labour. Virtually every process involved in meat processing is technical and highly specialized. You will need to hire or outsource appropriate expertise to get the best results. For example, something that sounds as simple as slaughtering needs skilled hands to handle. As is usually the case with most businesses, the level of automation will inform on the number of hands needed on deck. Ever heard of Halal meat? Well, this refers to meat that is permissible to be eaten under Islamic Law. Those that subscribe to that law only meat that has been slaughtered a particular way by someone who subscribes to Islam. This is an important consideration in your human capital needs. You might want to have someone on-board who can do slaughter meat the Islam way. This would be strategic especially if you know some of your clients will be Islamic.
The need to buy, hire, or rent machinery will lead to some significant capital requirements. More often than not you will need a substantial amount of working space. Thus you will need to build or rent a building to house your entire meat processing infrastructure. You will also need a transport framework, in-house or outsourced, to handle deliveries to some of your clients. Not forgetting cold storage equipment to keep meat fresh. All this points to how capital-intensive a meat processing business can turn out to be.
The market for products of meat processing or meat processing services is huge. You can supply wholesalers, retailers, and individual or corporate clients. This spans from your products to the actual meat processing services. For instance, someone might simply come to you for you to cut their meat of an animal that has just been slaughtered. Evidently, the market is so broad and diversified.
Important Things To Consider
The most important things I have to mention here regard issues to do with compliance with certain regulations. Meat processing is characterised by certain regulatory frameworks that a business must comply with. It is indispensably paramount that adhere to them since you can be inspected by the respective authorities any time. As I always say, a good place to start is always local authorities and those already doing the business. These people can help you understand better what might be expected of your business regulations-wise.
Let me point to some things that are critically important for your business to thrive. Do not take shortcuts in this kind of business – I know most people like to take shortcuts. Due to proper due diligence to ensure you do not deal with animals whose origin is dodgy. I recall some time back when meat processors in Zimbabwe were now using Formalin to preserve meat. This was in a bid to beat the electricity load shedding blues. You should desist from such unethical business practices by all means.