The purpose of this article is to combine some of the visible world-wide trends and highlighting these trends to the North American market. The author hopes it will help artisanal meat companies in seeking a new direction and most importantly enhance/revamp their stores and overall brand.

Convenience and changing consumer behavior

Decrease in meat consumption or smaller portion sizes, greater consumer awareness, less cooking in everyday life are challenges for the craft butcher trade. Delivery of premium, well-balanced, healthy meals prepared at the craft butcher store will increase. Food is more and more becoming a status symbol and therefore an expression of lifestyle. In this regard, online shopping will increase. However, hurdles need to be overcome for the craft butcher store.

Consumer habits are changing fast. Traditional products like the Sunday roast are less in demand today than they were a decade ago. Fixed meal times are becoming increasingly unusual. The craft butchery store, however, is well positioned to enter this trend.

Animal rights and animal welfare

The consumer of today has a greater awareness of animal rights and welfare. This is one reason people are looking for craft butcher stores. Animal welfare has become an important point which effects their buying decisions.

This would seem to be a really good opportunity for the craft butchery trade to distance itself from commercial and industrial suppliers.

Local food

Because of increased globalisation, many consumers are rediscovering local food. Their goal is to know more about where the food comes from, and they also want to support the local industry. Traditionally the butcher is rooted in the local community and has a good opportunity to participate in this trend. Local food also goes hand in hand with animal welfare. Buzz words are: “Animal traceability, limited food miles, animal-friendly slaughtering procedures in smaller slaughterhouses.” There is a more deeply rooted appreciation for living creatures in the craft butchery store.

Energy efficiency

The production of meat and meat products goes hand in hand with high costs for energy. Here it is paramount that investment in energy efficient machines, equipment, lighting, heating and refrigeration will be looked at it, and then an action plan needs to be set in motion. Traditional energy and alternative energy generation should be considered. Water regeneration is an important factor which needs to be looked at as well. In many parts of North America water is still free. In the next couple of years though, we will be paying for water coming in and maybe even for water going out.

Catering Service

Many craft butcher stores worldwide have invested in offering a complete catering service to their customers. The craft butcher store is well positioned to offer a catering service and should not let this profitable business be taken over by catering companies. Yes, it needs additional investment if you want to do a professional job. Separate rooms for preparation, a new vehicle for delivery and a professional cook as well as other investments would be required; but this would help the store take part in the home delivery trend.


Craft Butchery Store before renovation

butcher before


After...Craft Butchery After


The butcher store of the future is increasingly becoming an “artisanal entertainer” and needs to be the conveyor of handcrafted foods.

Most importantly, the branding and redesigning of butcher stores needs to be addressed. There are several craft stores who have addressed that issue. However, most North American stores need to look at redesigning their stores to make them more attractive - “cool looking” - with well-trained staff in dedicated uniforms which sell local and global specialty foods and meats.

The restaurant industry, as well as the bakery industry, has addressed this issue. Restaurants and bakeries are now looking trendy and inviting. Nobody, especially the younger generation, wants to go in stores which look like a scene out of 70’s. The author is aware of the big costs associated with being on current (not everyone can create a VICTOR CHURCHILL STORE), but if you want to attract customers, and you want to become a food destination, then you should take a hard look at your store and see what you can do to improve it.

The craft butcher store could also look into collaboration with local foodies or food bloggers, or hire a professional who looks after social media. Catering services or opening a cooking school could also elevate the brand.

I took a couple of craft butchers on a Premium Butcher Store tour in Europe. We visited the best craft butcher stores in Germany, Switzerland, France and England. The participants were deeply impacted by and amazed at the quality of the products and attention to details in the stores. On the other hand, European Craft Butchers envy the Butcher in North America, because they are able to sell a much higher volume of meat. I believe that the craft butchery store has a future in North America if investments are made and the owner is committed for the long run.


Many years ago it was not “in” to be a chef. Nowadays this point of view has shifted and society sees the chef as a valuable person often with celebrity status. What does a craft butchery store need to do in order to attract more talent? Here we need the support of the meat and food associations to address this shortage of talent.

We also need to address wages. A living wage and also benefits need to be paid. You cannot hire untrained people to lead a premium craft butcher store. You have to invest in training, training and more training. This is expensive, but the company who follows that path will be successful.

From my own experience, I know that young people want to work, but you have to be aware that they want to work differently. That is, they need more flexibility, free time, and most importantly they want to contribute to the decision-making process. As well, they need almost constant feedback.

This is all very complex and not easy to integrate into daily work, but it is imperative to look at it and create a successful action plan.

The owner of the modern craft butcher store needs to be on site, but should not work “on the line” all day. Rather, he has to dedicate time to marketing, finance, sales, employees, innovation and determine how he can lead the store to the next level.


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North American Craft Butchery Store Trends, Opportunities and Challenges...