Halal food market on the rise

| 02/11/2009 | Reply
 

Muslims in Europe have long struggled to find halal food products,
which abide by Islamic law. But now businesses are realizing there’s a
lot of money to be made catering to the growing Muslim population.

 

It is just after working hours, and customers are slowly rolling
into the Uemit Turkish supermarket in Bonn. The shelves are packed full
with Turkish delicacies, and colorful fruit stands stretch across the
front entrance. A handful of shoppers have made their way to the halal
meat counter at the back of the store.

Rabia Kasik, a young store clerk, says their customers like to shop
there because it is one of the few places in Bonn where Muslims can buy
halal food, including chicken patties, beef burgers – even gummi bears.

“People can find halal food here, and in a few other specialty
markets – but not in many other places. It is difficult for Muslims in
Germany, because everything is mixed with pork,” Kasik says.

Halal is an Arabic term that means “lawful”, and it refers to a way
of life that adheres to Islamic law. Any food or drink can be halal if
it meets Muslim standards. For example, meat products cannot contain
pork, and food producers must clean their machines with alcohol-free
detergents.

Halal business booming

Experts say that halal food is the fastest growing food sectors in
the world. It already accounts for 17 percent of the global food
market, according to the World Halal Forum.

In 2010, halal food is expected to generate sales of more than 45
billion euros in Europe alone. With the Muslim population in the EU
growing due to immigration and higher birth rates, businesses are
starting to realize the untapped potential of the halal food market.

Sign for halalBildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift:  Muslims have varying standards for halal certification

In France and Britain, which have the EU’s largest Muslim
populations, this trend has been gaining momentum for some time.
British supermarket chains, Sainsbury’s and Tesco sell halal products,
as does the French chain Casino. Even the American fast-food joint
Kentucky Fried Chicken serves food that abides by Islamic standards
at many of its European restaurants.

Mustafa Balikci is the head of Anatolia Foods, a company that
specializes in halal products. Its headquarters is located in the small
German town of Rheinbreitbach, where he grew up, but the company is now
represented in nine countries.

“The idea was to establish a market for halal products in Europe,
because it’s very difficult for Muslims in Europe to find halal
products” Balikci says. “Even if a product’s label says it’s halal,
Muslims have to be very careful because it may not be accurate. It’s
sometimes hard to know if something is really halal or not.”

Germany still lagging in halal business

Mustafa Balikci says Germany has been slow to stock its store
shelves with halal products compared to other European countries, due
in part to the controversial process by which meat is certified
“halal”. Muslims broadly agree that the animal must be alive and devoid
of any drugs when it is slaughtered – something that goes against
German law, which requires abattoirs to use sedatives. As a result,
most halal food producers in Germany have to import their meat.

Despite the legal barriers, however, Hatice Balikci – who’s also
part of the family halal food business – says she is not worried. In
fact, she believes  that Germany’s four million Muslims mean an
expansion of the halal food market is inevitable.

Muslims order halal burgers at a Burger King in FranceBildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift:  Fast food chains in Europe are increasingly serving up halal products to cater to Muslims“I
think the business will go on and it’s a big trend,” she says. “We saw
how many people came to the halal stands at the Anuga Food Trade Fair
to get information about it.”

“They were not all Muslims – there were people from all over the
world, from Pakistanis to Chinese people. So I think it’s a big market
place.”

 

Author: Vanessa Johnston

Editor: Sam Edmonds

Category: EU, Europe

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