Supply and Demand Part 3
This is the third and final post in our series on horse slaughter. Part 1 and Part 2 addressed the issues with the current North American slaughter system. This post is about the feasibility of an overhaul.
Changing the slaughter system will be expensive and add substantially to the price of the meat it produces. The cost of everything from documentation to transportation to the slaughter itself will go up. Worldwide, about 5 million horses are slaughtered annually. The vast majority are killed and eaten in Russia, China and South America as a cheap food source when their working lives are over. These horses are typically slaughtered either at small, local abattoirs or in grossly inhumane conditions. There will be little-to-no market in these countries for expensive, humanely raised meat.
A few countries, such as France, Belgium and Japan, view horsemeat as a delicasy and are willing to pay a premium price for it. The catch is that they expect the horses to actually be treated humanely! Many animal welfare and anti-slaughter groups are now focusing their efforts on educating European consumers about the truth behind the North American slaughter process, in an attempt to limit the demand for NA horsemeat.
This is one of many videos made to highlight the flaws in the slaughter process. And they seem to be working. Multiple European grocery chains (notably Delhaize and Makro & Colruyt) are refusing to sell meat from countries where the process is deemed inhumane; some are stating they will sell European slaughtered horses only. These statistics are from the StatsCan website and show the number of horses slaughtered in the past five years; they paint an interesting picture.
There is a massive spike in the number of horses slaughtered around the time the US slaughter plants closed – and a steady decline in the couple years since. This is despite the fact that killbuyers are currently able to buy meat horses for much lower prices than was possible before the economic downturn. This implies the demand for the meat itself has fallen.
These stats from France back that up.
The consumption of horse meat in France (one of the major markets for North American horse meat) has been dropping for decades. Similar trends can be seen in other European countries and, to a lesser degree, in Japan.
Pro-slaughter advocates are claiming that if US slaughter plants are re-opened, they could process as many 200,000 horses a year. We’re curious as to what exactly they intend to do with the carcasses. And when, exactly, people will stop trying to create an artificial demand for their excess horses and actually start addressing the root of the issue – the supply side of the equation.