Summary of our market study

The global meat production market, encompassing beef and sheep among other animals, is projected to grow significantly, with an expected market size of $1157.55 billion by 2025, which translates to a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7% from 2020. This growth is attributed to factors such as demographic expansion, advances in industry automation and innovation, and a trend towards premium offerings. Specifically, in the beef sector, the United States and Brazil lead global production, while China dominates the sheep meat market. In France, there has been a slight market growth despite a decline in the number of cattle and sheep slaughterings.

The French sector is increasingly concentrated with the Bigard group dominating, although public abattoirs face difficulties. The French meat industry is characterized by a positive trade balance for live animals but a negative balance for processed meat, indicating higher imports of meat compared to exports, with beef having a coverage rate of 78% and sheep meat only 9.7%. Additionally, there has been a notable increase in meat prices, indicative of these meats becoming more of a premium product, with the consumer price index for beef and sheep meat rising at a higher rate than the general index from 2010 to 2020.

Supermarkets and hypermarkets are the primary distribution channels for meat, especially in France, showing the country's market dynamics and consumer behaviors. Overall, the global meat market demonstrates robust expansion prospects, driven by multiple economic and social factors.

The French market for cattle and sheep slaughterhouses is witnessing modest growth amidst a backdrop of declining numbers in cattle and sheep slaughtering.

While the overall international meat market is on the rise, expected to balloon by approximately 39% between 2020 and 2025, the French market presents a more static picture, with its 265 slaughterhouses facing not only a contraction in the number of slaughtering events but also consumer concerns over animal welfare.

French production has seen a decline, with the number of controlled cattle slaughters dropping by about 5% compared to 2015 , a more precipitous 12% compared to 2010, and an even more substantial 18% compared to 2000. For sheep, the reduction in slaughtering volume is less pronounced from 2015 to 2020 at around 1.6%, but a significant 30% when looking back to the year 2000. Among the players in the French market, the Bigard group stands tall, dominating the industry by controlling a significant portion of beef and sheep production through their network of slaughterhouses.

The sector is highly concentrated, to the extent that almost 90% of production and slaughter are managed by just five industrial operators. This consolidation is confirmed by a more than 20% reduction in the number of cattle slaughterhouses. In terms of labor, the slaughterhouse industry has also witnessed a dip in its workforce from over 41,000 in 2007 to under 39,000 in 2019.

When it comes to financials, despite the shrinking workforce and the number of establishments, the market's size for meat processing and preservation has grown by close to 31% between 2000 and 2021, culminating in a value just above 19 billion euros for the year 2021. The main challengers for this market are the concerns around animal welfare and a significant shift towards higher meat quality demanded by consumers, which has contributed to price increases.

Consumer price indices for beef and sheep meat have seen rates of growth that surpass those of general commodities, indicating a trend towards meat being perceived as a more premium or even 'luxury' product. Despite these hurdles, France's trade balance for live animals remains positive, even though it's on a declining path and the scenario.

Dominant Forces in the Beef and Sheep Meat Industry

The global market for meat production, including beef and sheep meat, is characterized by the notable presence of key players who significantly shape the industry's landscape. The dominance of certain companies has created a highly concentrated market, especially within certain regions.

  • The Bigard Group:

A Colossal Presence in France At the forefront of the French meat industry stands the Bigard Group, a titan in the sector. The group's vast network encompasses 28 slaughterhouses, and it purchases more than half of France's beef production. Its influence is so significant that it doesn't just lead within the domestic space but is also on the brink of dominating the pork market as well. The Bigard Group's strategy of acquisition and consolidation has made it a central pillar in the industry, with a capability that extends from slaughtering and cutting to the distribution of both beef and sheep meat. This kind of market power puts Bigard in a pivotal position, allowing it to set standards and influence pricing within the sector.

  • Public Abattoirs:

Struggling Giants Contrasting the might of Bigard are the public abattoirs, which are in a more precarious position. Over the years, the number of public slaughterhouses has diminished, with their market share in meat production and slaughtering significantly reduced from the heydays of past decades. Issues like oversized and under-utilized facilities have contributed to a challenging financial situation for many public abattoirs. However, public slaughterhouses play a unique role in the market by providing an option for farmers to pay only for the slaughter service, giving them the ability to retrieve the meat for further processing — an option not available in private establishments like those owned by Bigard. Public abattoirs, therefore, represent an alternative model within the market, one that could potentially benefit from restructuring or operational changes proposed by bodies like the Cour des Comptes.

  • The Role of Intermediaries:

Bridging the Gap The industry also benefits from the crucial role played by intermediaries such as live animal traders, livestock markets, and agricultural cooperative sales agents. These intermediaries form a vital bridge between livestock farmers and slaughterhouses, managing aspects ranging from selection and trading to animal logistics. Organizations like the Fédération des marchés de Bétail vif (FMBV) and the Fédération française des commerçants en bestiaux (FFCB) represent significant portions of the market, with a substantial share of animals sold at markets or exported to third countries.

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Summary and extracts

1 Market overview

1.1 Definition and scope of study

Slaughterhouses are establishments in which animals are slaughtered and prepared for consumption. This study covers cattle slaughterhouses (veal, young cattle, bulls, steers, cows, heifers) and sheep slaughterhouses (lambs, ewe lambs, rams, ewes, sheep)

The international meat market will continue to grow, with a total increase in sales of 39% between 2020 and 2025. Indeed, world production of beef, dominated by the USA and Brazil, and of sheepmeat, dominated by China, has risen sharply over the past decade.

The French market, made up of 265 slaughterhouses, is growing slightly, although the number of cattle and sheep slaughterings is declining. The sector has become increasingly concentrated over the past two decades, with the Bigard group dominating the market. Public abattoirs, for their part, are experiencing a more complicated situation, and their future is in jeopardy.

The national market is being impacted by growing consumer concern for animal welfare .

1.2 The growing global market

The market for the production, processing and packaging of meat products (***) of *%, representing a total increase of **% between **** and ****. This increase will be driven in particular by demographic growth, industry automation and innovation, as well as an upmarket offering. [***]

Global meat industry market size World, **** - ****, in billions of USD Source: ...

1.3 Domestic market

Insee provides the market size in ****, as well as the annual sales index for the "processing and preservation of butcher's meat" (***).

Category **.**Z (***) comprises :

the operation of slaughterhouses engaged in the slaughter of animals for slaughter, and the preparation and packaging of meat: beef, pork, lamb, rabbit, mutton, buffalo, bison, etc. production ...

1.4 A positive trade balance for live animals but negative for meat

With regard to imports and exports, it's worth distinguishing between trade in live animals and trade in already-processed meat. Indeed, the latter constitutes a form of competition for slaughterhouses, while the former supplies slaughterhouses with "raw material" for processing.

Live animals :


The trade balance for large cattle is largely positive. ...

2 Demand analysis

2.1 Decrease in meat consumption

Total meat consumption in France over the past decade has fallen very slightly, with average annual per capita meat consumption (***) down by just *.*% between **** and ****. However, this slight decline has been a structural trend for * decades, with a *.*% drop in **** compared to ****, and a *.*% drop between **** and ****.

While meat consumption in ...

2.2 Demand for beef and sheep meat

Penetration rates

The following graph shows the penetration rate of beef and sheep meat in France. The penetration rate is an indicator that reflects the proportion of consumers in relation to the number of potential customers (***) who purchased the product during the year.

In detail, the penetration rate for beef, excluding ...

2.3 More and more demand for organic meat

According to an IFOP survey for Interbev, among French meat eaters (***), before remaining stable by fluctuating +/- * points since then.

Frequency of organic meat consumption France, ****, in Source: ****

In detail, the proportion of organic meat consumers is highest among the over-**s (***).

The main reasons for consuming organic meat are respect ...

2.4 Demand trends: animal welfare takes center stage

Over the past decade, there has been a growing concern about animal welfare in the meat industry, provoked and/or accentuated by videos from the L*** association that have raised public awareness.

According to a **** IFOP poll for the ** Millions d'Amis foundation, a very large majority of French people (***) agree that ...

3 Market structure

3.1 Meat industry value chain

Slaughterhouses are at the heart of the supply chain, upstream from processing and distribution, and downstream from livestock farming and intermediaries/live animal traders. The latter play a major role between livestock farmers and slaughterhouses. Intermediaries can be of several kinds. There are, for example, livestock markets, where buyers and sellers ...

3.2 Slaughter market structure

Slaughterhouse activity is listed under NAF code **.**Z: processing and preservation of butcher's meat (***) but excludes poultry and game.

Between **** and ****, the number of establishments fell by **% (***).

Number of meat processing and preservation establishments France, **** - ****, in number of establishments Source: ****

Workforce registered under activity **.**Z France, **** - ****, in headcount Source: ...

3.3 Production: slaughter volumes down

The main indicator of production at French slaughterhouses is slaughter volume. There is a downward trend in the volume of cattle and sheep slaughtered in France. In fact, in ****, the number of controlled cattle slaughters fell by *% compared to ****, **% compared to **** and **% compared to ****. For sheep, although the drop is less ...

3.4 Production: limited yields

Throughout the value chain (***), from animal transport to processing, there are numerous losses. As a result, yields from animal to plate are limited and vary according to the animal:


For a whole suckler cow (***) with an "empty live" weight, i.e. when the animal is alive, of *** kilograms, the losses ...

3.5 Distribution channels dominated by supermarkets

The main distribution channels for beef and sheep meat to consumers, and therefore the main customers for abattoirs, are supermarkets and hypermarkets. Specialized stores (***) are also major players in the distribution chain.


For beef, **.*% of distribution is captured by hypermarkets and supermarkets. Specialized stores, meanwhile, account for **.*% of the volume ...

4 Offer analysis

4.1 Sharp rises in meat prices

The following two graphs show the evolution of the consumer price indexes for beef and sheep meat in relation to the general price index. The price index is used to estimate the average variation in prices of products consumed by households. It is based on the observation of a fixed basket ...

4.2 Supply trends: animal welfare and short distribution channels

Animal welfare, a key issue for slaughterhouses

Over the past few years, the issue of animal welfare in slaughterhouses has become increasingly important, particularly in the wake of videos released by L*** that raised public awareness.[***]

The France Relance plan, launched in December ****, includes an envelope of *** million euros dedicated to ...

5 Regulations

5.1 The main regulatory standards governing the meat industry

Non-exhaustive list.

The " Hygiene Package ": this is a set of European hygiene standards designed to ensure a minimum level of food safety on a European scale, and binding on all players in the food chain. They mainly comprise the following regulations: Regulation (***) n°***/****, Regulation (***) n°***/****, Regulation (***) n°***/****, Regulation (***) n°***/****, Regulation (***) n°***/****, Regulation ...

5.2 slaughterhouse regulations

Killing rules are harmonized at European level by EC Regulation n°****/**** of September **, ****. The Commission and the European Parliament thus set minimum requirements for slaughter in Europe. However, each member state can then set more stringent rules. For example, France has chosen to exclude kids and suckling lambs from the poultry ...

6 Positioning the players

6. Segmentation

  • Bigard groupe
  • Elivia
  • Sovileg
  • Abattoir municipalde Sisteron
  • SAB Abattage de la Bressandière Parthenay
  • Sicarev
  • Couedic Madore
  • Quintin Viandes
  • Tendriade (Van Drie Group)
  • AIVT
  • Culture viande Syndicat
  • Facomia (Bobet Groupe)
  • M.Serra
  • Mecanova
  • Cooperl Arc Atlantique

List of charts presented in this market study

  • Number of meat processing and preservation plants
  • Employees registered under activity 10.11Z
  • Number of cattle slaughterhouses
  • Controlled slaughter of cattle and sheep
  • Gross domestic meat production
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Latest news

Cooperl, the pork heavyweight, a victim of inflation - 25/09/2023
  • Cooperl is France's number-two pork producer, with 30 plants.
  • 17 of its sites specialize in cooked charcuterie.
  • Two plants are threatened with closure: Goussainville in Val-d'Oise and Lampaulaise de Salaisons at Ergué-Gabéric in Finistère.
  • These two plants employed around 200 people.
  • The price of pork rose from 1.40 euros to 2.10 euros per kilo in one year.
  • Group sales are 2.8 billion euros.
  • Inflation has risen by 20% in all supermarket food segments in two years.
  • Household purchases of products such as meat, fish, poultry and charcuterie have fallen by 2% in 2023 compared with 2022.
  • Charcuterie manufacturers have recorded 19 bankruptcies since the beginning of the year.
  • Cooperl employs 3,000 members.
France risks no longer being self-sufficient in pork - 26/11/2022
  • Historically self-sufficient in pork, France produces 105% of what it consumes, i.e. 2.3 million tons of meat per year
  • Production is set to fall by 3% by 2022
  • One third of volumes exported
  • 25% of consumption is imported (ham and charcuterie)
  • energy costs could rise to 8% of sales
  • Cooperl, a heavyweight in the sector with 2,950 member breeders and sales of 2.45 billion euros in 2021
  • at the beginning of the year, farmers benefited from a €270 million emergency plan to cope with soaring feed costs

Cooperl steps up the pace in charcuterie - 17/06/2022
  • Brocéliande, Madrange and Montagne Noir are its three main charcuterie brands.
  • Brocéliande range switches to nitrite-free preservation (50% of references)
  • The brand arrives at Intermarché
  • Since 2021, the Ô Petits Légumes range, awarded the LSA Innovation Trophy, has incorporated 30% vegetables into its ham recipes
  • Cooperl is France's number-one pork producer
  • Its charcuterie sales are down by 3 to 4%
  • Since 2008, France's number-one pork producer has focused on upgrading its breeding facilities and producing antibiotic-free meat.

Companies quoted in this study

This study contains a complete overview of the companies in the market, with the latest figures and news for each company. :

Bigard groupe
Abattoir municipalde Sisteron
SAB Abattage de la Bressandière Parthenay
Couedic Madore
Quintin Viandes
Tendriade (Van Drie Group)
Culture viande Syndicat
Facomia (Bobet Groupe)

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