Economic importance

Measured by the number of companies and employees, but also by sales, the meat industry is a significant branch of the Swiss food industry. It employs around 22,000 people and uses about one quarter of the whole of agricultural production.

The Swiss Meat processors are often family firms or have arisen from family firms. Even in large factories, the structures are much smaller than in other countries. The village butchers’ shops are also still important to us, although their numbers are declining.

Slaughterhouses procure the animals directly from the farmers, from meat stock traders or livestock markets. In recent years this has become more and more concentrated, although the network is still comparatively dense. As well as the large plants, there are smaller slaughterhouses, and also commercial butchers who still do their own slaughtering.

The Swiss Meat processors guarantee the quality, safety, freshness and traceability of their products. They are meeting the increasing demands of consumers and the fierce pressure of competition by producing innovative and enjoyable high-quality specialities.

From barn to plate

Meat processors include the entire value creation chain in their approach to quality. Those participating in the market at all levels carefully coordinate their activities according to the motto «from barn to plate», ensuring that consumers receive high-quality, healthy meat products.

Many slaughterhouses produce their own sausages or cured meats. At the same time, they act as wholesalers, as they supply fresh meat as half carcasses or large pieces to butchers’ shops and meat producers. The large plants better utilise their capacity this way, and the trade benefits from more cost-effective slaughtering.

Facts and figures

  • Independent butchers' shops (2014, not including branches): approx. 1'100
  • Employees in meat-processing plants (2014): 22'000
  • There are 26 large and medium-sized slaughterhouses in Switzerland.