A horse in slaughter buyer Mike McCarron's trailer in Cleburne, Texas, August, 2019. USA Today.

Horse slaughter and horse meat production — A global perspective

By JANE ALLIN

MARCH AGAINST HORSE SLAUGHTER — A total of 77 countries slaughter horses for their meat. These can be divided into 5 major regions (this data is based on the most recent available FAO numbers published in 2018):

Africa – 13 countries
Americas – 15 countries (statistics do not include the US)*
Asia – 12 countries
Europe – 33 countries
Oceania – 4 countries

(*) In 2007, horse slaughter plants in the US were shuttered and remain this way today. Slaughter of US horses has shifted to Mexico and Canada.


Latest stats show a staggering 1.75 billion lbs of horse meat was produced in 2018 from approximately 5 million horses around the globe.


Table 1 shows the global production share of horse meat and horses slaughtered by region with accompanying pie charts indicating the percentage each region contributes to the global total.

Note that 1 tonne equals 2,205 pounds which equates to a total of approximately   1,746,019,229 pounds of horse meat produced around the globe in 2018 from approximately 5 million horses — a staggering 1.75 billion pounds of horse meat.

All of the information that follows is available at: http://www.fao.org/faostat/en/#data/QL

Table 1 — Horse Meat Produced and Number of Horses Slaughtered Worldwide by Region — 2018

Figure 1. Horses slaughtered worldwide by region (% of total)

Figure 2. Horse meat produced worldwide by region (% of total)

Five years later how have things changed?

The last time we looked at these numbers was 2017 when the most recent data available was from 2013. Currently the most recent metrics are from 2018. To demonstrate how things evolved over the 5-year interval, a comparison of data between 2013 and 2018 was evaluated using:

  • The % of the total of the horses slaughtered worldwide by region to indicate the regions that represent the highest and lowest number of slaughtered horses.
  • The % of the total of horse meat produced worldwide by region to indicate the regions that represent the highest and lowest tonnage of horse meat production.
  • The change in the number of horses slaughtered worldwide by region to indicate which regions increased or decreased horse slaughter.
  • The change in the horse meat produced worldwide by region to indicate which regions increased or decreased horse meat production.

Table 2. Horses slaughtered worldwide by region (% of total): 2018 vs 2013

In 2013 Asia and the Americas accounted for ~79% of all horses slaughtered compared to ~85% in 2018, an increase of ~6% over the 5-year interval.

Figure 3. Horses slaughtered worldwide by region (% of total): 2018 vs 2013

Table 3. Horse meat produced worldwide by region (% of total): 2018 vs 2013

In 2013 Asia and the Americas accounted for ~77% of all horse meat production compared to ~81% in 2018, an increase of ~4% over the 5-year interval.

Figure 4. Horse meat produced worldwide by region (% of total): 2018 vs 2013

Changes by region for number of horses slaughtered and horse meat produced over 5 years are shown in Table 4 and Table 5 respectively.

Table 4 – Change in number of horses slaughtered worldwide by region (head): 2018 vs 2013

Table 5 – Change in horse meat production worldwide by region (tonnes): 2018 vs 2013

Figure 5.  Change (%) in horses slaughtered and horse meat production by region: 2013 to 2018 

Both horse meat production and the number of horses slaughtered in Asia and the Americas increased significantly over a period of 5 years. By contrast, there were significant decreases for both metrics in Europe and Oceania, and little to no change in Africa. Overall both the number of horses slaughtered and horse meat produced globally increased between 2013 and 2018.

In summary:

1. Global horse meat production in 2018 was a staggering 1.75 billion pounds taken from the carcasses of approximately 5 million slaughtered horses worldwide.

2. In 2018, Asia was by far the global leader in the number of horses slaughtered (~58% of the total) and horse meat produced (~53% of the total).

3. The Americas are a distant second with approximately half of both horses slaughtered (~27% of the total) and horse meat produced (~27% of the total) compared to Asia.

4. Together, Asia and the Americas were responsible for about 86% of the horses slaughtered and 81% of horse meat produced globally in 2018.

5. From 2013 to 2018, Asia and the Americas significantly increased both the number of horses slaughtered and horse meat produced.

6. The number of horses slaughtered in Asia increased by ~371,000 head (14.5%) and horse meat produced by ~75,700 tonnes (~170,325,000‬ lb), an increase of ~22% over the five-year period from 2013 to 2018.

7. Similarly, although to an even greater extent percentage wise, the number of horses slaughtered in the Americas increased by ~236,650 head (~21%) and horse meat produced by ~42,500 tonnes (~ 93,712,500‬ lb), an increase of ~24%, over the five-year period from 2013 to 2018.

8. By contrast, the number of horses slaughtered and horse meat produced in Europe and Oceania decreased. Most notably, the number of horses slaughtered in Europe decreased by ~24% or ~168,500 head and horse meat production decreased ~25% or ~37,400 tonnes (82,467,000 lb.). Oceania also had a significant decrease in both metrics with a reduction of ~17% in the number of horses slaughtered and 13% in horse meat production.

9. Africa’s numbers remained relatively stable over the five-year interval.

10. Globally both the number of horses slaughtered (9%) and horse meat produced (~11%) increased over the 5-year period due to the large increase in both Asia and the Americas despite reductions elsewhere.


Next up: Top ten horse meat producers and slaughterers in the world


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FEATURED IMAGE: A horse nervously looks out from slaughter buyer Mike McCarron’s trailer in Cleburne, Texas, August, 2019. USA Today.

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 »

2 thoughts on “Horse slaughter and horse meat production — A global perspective”

  1. Hi Jane. I am currently working with the Colorado Horse Rescue on some research involving global perspectives on horses and horse slaughter. Your article above, as well as the other in this series, have been very informative and a great starting point for my research. I was wondering if you had done any further research about horse slaughter globally or the perspectives of horses? If so, I was also wondering if you would like to chat about it sometime. Please let me know! I would love to pick your brain about any research you have on the topic.

    Like

  2. Thank you, Jane Allin for this informative article.
    Needless to say, the facts are sickening and indeed disturbing.
    It pains my heart when I think of the horrendous suffering these horses endure.

    Liked by 1 person

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