The European halal market is an increasingly important food segment. According to industry analysis, in the last few years the European halal market has grown on average by around 15% per annum. Today, the current muslim population in EU-28 is estimated at 20 million.
Currently, the largest muslim population in Europe is in France (an estimated 4.7 million) and its halal market is worth an estimated $8 billion. In this context, France is considered the hub of the halal market in Europe.
Although the European halal market is relatively large – it is estimated that the market generates $30 billion in annual sales – it is also fragmented. The French muslim population originates (mainly) from North Africa, UK’s from the Indian subcontinent, Germany’s from Turkey, while in the Netherlands the muslim population originates mainly from Morocco, Turkey and Indonesia. The regional differences reflect heterogeneity of demand, which must be taken into account when looking at each country as a potential export market.
Europe has seen halal food products on supermarket shelves for a while, but in the last three to four years there has been an appreciable increase in marketing efforts, including television advertising. As a result, the market has seen further development, with new retail products being launched. Supermarket, hypermarkets, and other specialty retail chains are now devoting more shelf space to these products. Although the majority of halal foods are currently sold as meat and deli products, the demand for grocery products is rising. Historically, the range of grocery products has been relatively basic. However, new products, such as processed foods, confectionery products and frozen ready-to-eat meals have begun to enter the European markets.
Halal is seen as a religious attestation and not, strictly speaking, a sanitary or phytosanitary requirement. For example, in France the government is only involved in halal certification to the extent that it has designated the three main mosques as the only distributors of permits for halal slaughter. In other respects the government does not participate in the regulation or enforcement of halal-labelled foods.