Horse slaughter and horse meat production worldwide — Introduction

March 2020


MARCH AGAINST HORSE SLAUGHTER — According to the most recent data (2018) from the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), horse meat production spans the globe and is a multi-million-dollar business in terms of imports and exports across borders.[1]

The data taken from the FAO statistical database, in general, have been supplied by governments via national publications and FAO questionnaires (paper or electronic). To provide more comprehensive coverage of this data collection, official data have sometimes been supplemented with data from unofficial sources as well as information supplied by other national or international agencies.[2]

Where horse slaughter and horse meat production are concerned the data relate to horses slaughtered within national boundaries, irrespective of their origin. Moreover, all data shown relate to total meat production from both commercial and farm slaughter.[3]

Despite the availability of wide-ranging information on horse slaughter and horse meat production around the world, there are some discrepancies with the data, presumably due to estimates based on prior years, calculated data, as well as imputation data. Imputation data refers to replacing missing data with substituted values using an appropriate imputation methodology.

With respect to horse slaughter and meat production the FAO fails to recognize that since fiscal year 2006, Congress has annually prohibited the use of federal funds to inspect horses destined for food, effectively prohibiting domestic slaughter in the U.S. As a result, the slaughter market has shifted to Canada and Mexico.

According to the FAO, 29,275 tonnes of horse meat, from 114,314 slaughtered horses, were produced in the U.S. in 2018. This of course is inexplicable as horse slaughter (for human consumption) has been effectively shut down since 2007. However, Bravo Packing Inc. in Penns Grove, New Jersey (not to be confused with Bravo! pet food) was, and still is, according to some sources, slaughtering horses to be sold to zoos to feed big cats and other carnivores.

Bravo Packing has a disreputable history of shocking animal abuse; you can read more about Bravo Packing here.

In 2012, Governor Christie signed a state law banning horse slaughter for human consumption in the Garden State however Bravo opted to exploit the unfortunate loophole in the ban which fails to include the slaughter of horses in order to feed animals rather than humans.

Since horse slaughter and horse meat production unrelated to human consumption in the US likely represents a very small total relative to other countries that slaughter horses for meat, these figures have been left out of the data used to create the charts and tables that follow.

As a final point, the FAO data does not differentiate between horse meat production intended for human consumption, from that which may be destined for pet food products or to feed exotic zoo animals. Nonetheless these data give an overview of the magnitude of horse slaughter and horse meat production on a global basis.


All Reports

Horse slaughter and horse meat production worldwide — Introduction »

Horse slaughter and horse meat production — A global perspective »

Top 10 countries ranked by horses slaughtered and horse meat production — 2018 »

Top 10 importers and exporters of horse meat worldwide »

Canada’s Horse Slaughter Plants and U.S. Ports of Entry »

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