Muslims find more halal foods on European store shelves

| 30/12/2009 | Reply

Berlin – Gummi Bears are ubiquitous in Germany, where they are a
beloved, fruity delight for children of all backgrounds. The squishy
candy would seem like the most innocuous treat imaginable, but their
gelatine base – processed from animal proteins including pork – made
Gummi Bears off limits for children from observant Muslim households.

“Muslims
in Germany wanted them, too, but for a long time couldn’t eat them,”
said Engin Erguen, whose sales and distribution company Equ sells
products that meet Muslim halal standards.
In
2001, candy-maker Haribo started making Gummi Bears with proteins
derived from non-pork products to receive halal certification. Haribo
says the production line for the halal gummy bear sold in Germany is in
Turkey.
Halal
products from Equ are sold at about 3,000 Turkish markets in Germany,
including Haribo’s iconic candy and Maggi processed foods.

“With Haribo, the subject of halal foods in Germany received the appropriate amount of publicity,” said Erguen. Germany
has about 3.5 million of Western Europe’s 20 million Muslims, most of
whom are immigrants or the descendents of immigrants who came to the
continent in the decades after World War II.
Muslims
in Western Europe have long struggled to maintain their cultural and
culinary practises. Evolution in the market has brought more than just
halal Gummi Bears to grocery stores on the continent.

About
400 companies in Germany offer halal products, according to the
European halal control and certification authority in Ruesselsheim. “The
trend is upward. The market grows about 16 per cent every year,” said
Mahmoud Tatari, who co-founded the halal control authority in 2001. “It
currently is estimated at between 4 billion and 5 billion euros.”
Tatari
speaks of a proper boom in products that are halal, an Arabic word
meaning legal or permitted (helal in Turkish). The opposite of halal is
haram, which means forbidden or impermissible.
Generally,
foods derived from plants are halal with the exception of intoxicating
or poisonous products, according to the German nutrition society.

Interest
is growing among companies that want to offer products for the Muslim
market because trade in halal products is growing not only in Germany
and Europe but worldwide, with Muslims projected to be 30 per cent of
the world population by 2025. The
largest halal markets are in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Middle East. In Europe, Germany, France and Britain are the largest.

Pork,
a staple of the German diet, has been especially problematic for
Muslims because Islam prohibits all contact with pigs, which are
considered unclean. The
halal control authority certifies products made by many of the major
European food producers, including Nestle, Langnese, Elbmilch, Pfanni,
Gruenland and Ehrmann. Products made by the pharmaceuticals firms
Bayer, BASF and Merck similarly carry the halal stamp.
“Food products account for about 90 per cent of the certified items,” Tatari said. Across
Europe there are more than 4,000 halal products on the market.

Retailers have discovered halal, giving rise to inquiries from
Germany’s leading discount grocery chain, Aldi. Industry
analysts estimate that food product giants such as Nestle have made
more money on halal products than on organic products.
The
Swiss company, which began producing halal foods in the 1980s,
attributed 5 per cent of its revenue last year to halal products. Over
the years, Nestle has come out with halal drinks, dairy products and
chocolate and has more than 300 halal products.
“Of
456 Nestle factories worldwide, 75 have a halal certification, and
among them there are more than 100 production lines,” said company
spokeswoman Nina Backes.

Now
there are financial services offered by banks and there even are
telephone cards that receive certification as complying with Muslim
precepts. Tatari said this encompasses a principal of Islam:
“everything that is fair, correct and good for humans.”

Category: Europe, Food Manufacturing, Germany, Retail

Leave a Reply

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This