UK: From Kebab to Curry, Demand for Halal Frozen Food is Hot in Britain

As the Muslim population increases in the United Kingdom, so too does demand for frozen halal products. According to the Office for National Statistics, data shows that 3.9 million people in England and Wales described themselves as Muslim in 2021, and that number is increasing.

“Despite almost four million Muslims in the UK who are demanding convenient, high quality and competitively priced ranges of frozen halal products, the world foods section of the frozen aisle has traditionally lacked variety and innovation,” said Rupert Ashby, chief executive of the British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF). “With the global halal food market currently worth US $1.2 trillion and forecast to expand by a compound annual growth rate of 9.7% in the next 10 years [according to the Future Market Insights Report 2022], there is an enormous opportunity for producers of frozen food.”

The challenges that the frozen food industry has faced over the last several years has placed huge pressure on the frozen supply chain. Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns and foodservice restrictions drove unprecedented retail growth.

“In the face of these challenges, demand for halal food grew at a compound rate of 8.8% between 2017 and 2021, which illustrates the opportunity for more frozen food producers to enter this growing market – and for greater innovation in the frozen halal market to attract new customers who might have not previously considered frozen options,” said Ashby. “This comes at a time when the frozen food market has grown to a value of £7.25 billion, and I fully expect that demand for frozen halal foods will continue to grow in line with wider market growth.”

Leeds, England-based Jahan Foods’ success in this sector is testament to the demand for quality frozen halal convenience food products. In fact, the company has doubled its year-on-year turnover. Although launched just two years ago, the its products, aimed at the “modern family,” can be bought in all major supermarkets and a number of independent retail outlets in the UK, as well as ethnic food stores.
The business is celebrating phenomenal success. It is on track for its biggest and most successful year to date in 2022-23, and likely to ring up well over eight figures of sales receipts.

The Jahan brand has around 40 lines on offer, including halal pizza, kebabs, chicken nuggets, popcorn and spicy wings, samosas and marinated chicken.
Kaleem Ahmed, founder and managing director of Jahan Foods told the BFFF: “Before we launched, the world food frozen aisle in supermarkets was extremely dull and lacked innovation. It played safe with traditional foods such as parathas and samosas. I knew we could do better and provide modern Muslim consumers a more innovative range of products.

“Working with our manufacturing partners, we created everyday frozen family meals which were halal and offered both convenience and quality. We have been overwhelmed with how shoppers have bought into our ranges, and especially the Jahan brand. Due to this success some of our retailers have further supported us with substantial space within their cabinets and increased listings.”

Market Trends

As demand for more accessible options within the halal segment increases, there has been more investment in products targeted to buyers looking for pre-prepared food at affordable prices. This has been driven further by the current economic climate, as consumers stretch their budgets further than before.

The credit crunch and the soaring cost of living in Britain has had a huge impact on consumer eating habits, with less people now taking meals in restaurants or other out of home venues. Instead, they are looking for convenient and value-driven premium products that can be cooked at home instead, and frozen food is the best way for them to achieve this.

“Halal frozen food is no different, and we anticipate that there will be an emphasis placed on luxury products and pre-prepared halal meals,” said Ashby. “Until recently, the world food section of most supermarket frozen aisles lacked innovation and usually only provided simple and traditional halal options, in addition to the wider selection vegetarian and vegan options. However, frozen halal food producers have set their minds to innovation in the past few years and consumers can now purchase a great range of high quality and healthy halal frozen foods, with ranges available from pizzas to curries.”

In the Freezers

All of the major retailers carry frozen halal products under various brands, such as Tahira, Humza, Shazans and Gino’s in addition to Jahan. Although the selection of halal SKUs isn’t as broad as the rest of the frozen food offering, store operators say that it is in line with customer demand.

A website declaration at the Morrisons chain states: “We respect the fact that some religious communities want to eat food produced in accordance with their beliefs, and sell branded halal and kosher products where there is strong customer demand. It’s clear from the labeling that these products are halal or kosher.”

Tesco offers frozen halal food and in a number of stores, where customer demand for halal meat is high. There are independent meat counters operated by Shazan Foods under the ‘Fresh Halal Company’ brand. This highlights the steady demand for un-stunned slaughtered meat in certain parts of the UK.

Moving with the Times

The fact that the Muslim population in Britain has been consistently growing for decades and will likely continue to do so means that demand for frozen Halal products will rise accordingly.

“In the period from 2011 to 2021 the Muslim population accounted for 33% of the population growth in England and Wales, which shows that the market for high quality, nutritious and affordable halal food is greater than ever before,” said BFFF’s Ashby.

“The growing population of halal consumers coupled with the increasing range of frozen halal products means that retailers and foodservice outlets alike must ensure they are properly catering for an important part of the British population whilst also grasping the business opportunity to capitalize on a growing market.”

– Reported by Sarah Welsh