The rising demand for halal beef and a younger Muslim population is creating huge opportunity, according to industry experts.
Speaking at the Halal Food Authority (HFA) Halal Industry Conference, Norman Bagley, policy director at the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS) explained that there was a huge opportunity for the entire halal sector, but that halal beef was especially on the rise. “Our halal members have seen increased throughput, but we have seen a huge increase for halal beef over the past five years.”
Dr Phil Hadley, head of global supply chain development at AHDB Beef & Lamb, agreed that demand for halal beef was rising. “There is a small, but growing demand for halal beef, but domestic supply remains limited, so this drives imports from the EU and further afield. This presents both a challenge and an opportunity.”
According to the 2011 census figures, there are 2.7 million (m) Muslims in the UK, making up 4.8% of the total population and this is expected to grow to 5.5m by 2030. The census figures also found that 47% of Muslims were third- or fourth generation, while 33% are under the age of 15.
Hadley highlighted the opportunity that this young Muslim population created. “Anyone not focusing on the younger market is missing out.”
He also addressed some of the negative press that has dogged halal slaughter and urged the industry to “take a pragmatic approach to minimise the negativity”.
“The sector really suffers from an image perception and it is often portrayed in a poor light,” he said. “We need to be sensitive but transparent about the process, because if we’re not, someone else will be.”