Apart from the growing need for meat-free diets in Belgium, slaughterhouses have been producing record quantities of meat this year to meet domestic and international demand.
As per the reports from the Belgian statistics agency, 25,680,912 animals were killed in Belgian slaughterhouses in April 2022, including over 24 million chickens.
In addition, 62,783 bovine animals and 839,260 pigs were slaughtered last month. Last year, approximately 1.39 billion kilograms of animal carcasses were produced in Belgium, regarded as the country’s highest recorded level since 2015.
Slaughter statistics illustrate the changing tastes of consumers, as well as agricultural difficulties in rearing different types of livestock.
Since 2019, the total slaughter weight of cattle has reduced by 6% as part of a larger trend of reduced cattle slaughter within the country.
Similarly, horse meat, viewed as taboo in other parts of the world, has particularly fallen out of favour. Slaughter weights have dropped by 71% since 2019.
Belgium’s love for chicken, evidenced by the increasing number of fast-food chicken shops across the country, has only grown over recent years. The total weight of chicken carcass processed in Belgium has increased by around 1% yearly since 2016.
According to official statistics, Flanders leads the country in animal slaughter, where around 91% of all meat was processed last year.
According to the Belgian Meat Office, the Belgian meat industry is one of the most regulated in the world and ranks highly in animal welfare. By law, slaughterhouses must include the presence of a qualified veterinarian who is employed directly by the state.
Despite this, a series of high-profile scandals relating to animal cruelty abuses committed in Belgian slaughterhouses have been committed.
In January, an East Flemish slaughterhouse was shut down due to reports that animals were beaten badly, routinely subjected to shocks with electrical prods, and suffered poor slaughter standards.
The year before, a Belgian slaughterhouse and its 76-year-old manager were sentenced by a criminal court to pay a fine of 12,000 due to abuses brought forward by animal welfare organisation Animal Rights.