The meat processing industry includes any business, person, or entity that has a hand in the processing of meat, the distribution and sale of the final product, and even the advertising of those products. Processing meat involves slaughtering animals, cutting the meat, inspecting it to ensure it is safe for consumption, packaging it, processing it into other products such as sausage or lunch meats, delivering it to stores, and selling it to customers. Ranchers who raise the animals may also be considered an integral part of the meat processing industry, since they will supply the raw materials to make certain food products.
Butchers are an important part of the meat processing industry, as these people are responsible for cleaning and cutting the meat from the animal carcass. Butchers often work in slaughterhouses, locations at which cattle and other animals are killed, skinned, and cleaned so the meat can be used for food. A butcher may also work at a grocery store or meat market, cutting the meat ordered from distributors. The meat processing industry is a separate entity from the meat packing industry, however; processing involves taking the meat in its raw form and turning it into another product that is marketable, safe for consumption, and attractive to consumers. Butchers will therefore have a hand in this processing as well.
Packaging is often an important part of the meat processing industry, since processed meats often take on forms that are not natural shapes. Sausage, for example, is sometimes sold in tube-like packages sealed on either end with a metal clasp. Hot dogs are sold in bunches of eight in many cases, and they are usually contained in a plastic pouch. Lunch meats can be packaged a number of different ways depending on the size and quantity of the meat being sold.
Advertising the processed meat can be a challenge, especially in societies that value nutrition over flavor or ease of use. Processed meats can be unhealthy in many cases because of chemicals added to the meat during processing, as well as fat and cholesterol inherent in meat consumption. Advertisers can be hired to stress the nutritional benefits of the processed meat, as well as other advantages of the product, to show consumers the disadvantages do not outweigh the potential benefits of purchasing the product. Advertisers can also create logos, designing artwork for packaging, developing slogans, and much more.