Co-founder sees potential for expansion in the UK halal food market
Noman Khawaja, the co-founder of the London-based premium halal food brand Haloodies talks to The National about the potential for growth in the UK halal food market and why negative perceptions of halal are holding the market back.
The latest State of the Economy report from Reuters and the Dubai Goverment states that the global halal food industry is growing immensely. In your opinion, what is driving halal food demand in the UK?
The demand in the UK is being driven by similar trends to what we see globally, emphasised in the report. Around 50 per cent of the UK Muslim population is under 24 years old and Muslims are growing in number. These millennial Muslims are also making buying decisions based on faith and religion more than ever, and demand to see similar options to non-halal consumers made available to them. They are also more educated now with well-paid jobs and are willing to spend their money on quality halal food options.
Mainstream supermarkets are continuing to grow their halal offering, by increasing stores with halal ranges and adding new and innovative products and brands. Similarly, more restaurants are meeting the needs from halal consumers for mid-level independents, chain restaurants and high-end restaurants. There is more that can be done both at a local and governmental level, which demonstrates the halal food market will only continue to grow and is cause for great optimism.
What are the biggest opportunities for halal food entrepreneurs in the UK?
There are several excellent opportunities for halal food entrepreneurs in the UK. Although there is growth already, there are still many gaps. New apps are being developed to help halal consumers seek out halal food options. These will gain more importance over time because millennial Muslims are tech-minded – everything else is at their fingertips, so they expect halal food to be there, too. Online halal stores are also underdeveloped and there is opportunity for entrepreneurs to develop this area. Many Muslim bloggers and YouTubers can grow their following and utilise these platforms to showcase halal and provide revenue streams for themselves.
There are opportunities in fine dining. Some fine dining restaurants have halal options on the menu, but there is no dedicated halal Michelin starred restaurant as yet.
What roadblocks are there to achieving success as a UK halal food brand?
There has been a struggle to convince the mainstream supermarkets that halal must have more shelf space. They are gradually responding and increasing their store numbers and choice to the consumer. The press frequently paints the picture of halal being barbaric and this presents a challenge to a brand of showing off the beautiful qualities of halal and Tayyib [good, pure and wholesome] products. There is also a lack of funding to assist food brands to grow and achieve success. The market is flooded with halal from questionable sources and at low prices; this blocks brands with more trusted supply sources to enter the market in certain sales channels.
What are your long-term predictions for the global halal food industry?
The global halal food industry will continue to grow. In 2015, global Muslim consumer spending on food and beverage was 17 per cent of global expenditure, 3.4 per cent up on the previous year. Muslims are youngest of all religions in the world. By 2030, 29 per cent of the global young population is projected to be Muslim. They will be educated and have money to spend. This will further drive growth in halal food as they demand more. As long as education continues, more and more people will understand halal and this will grow the market as it becomes more acceptable.
Over time, halal regulation will also grow in value as more products and services will require halal accreditation.
What has been the biggest challenge in growing Haloodies?
There have been many challenges in growing Haloodies, but if I were to pick one, it would be investment to grow the brand. We knew we had a winning idea and would succeed but we needed an investor to believe in us and take a long-term view.