UK: World Halal Forum Europe Deemed a Success by Speakers and Delegates

London – The World Halal Forum Europe kicked off at London’s Earls Court Conference Centre on Tuesday, 10th November to a fully packed hall of 148 delegates from 28 countries. The forum, UK’s first major halal industry event to date, was set amidst controversial debates on Halal currently taking place in the UK. It was timely as it offered a highly focused platform for industry players, decision makers, and scholars alike to gather under one roof to discuss and deliberate issues and opportunities unique to the European sector. It also helped to create more awareness of the broader scope of Halal as suffers from massive misconceptions from negative media in the UK and also in some parts of Europe.

Themed on mainstreaming Halal products and services, the two-day forum also provided invaluable insight for those looking to manoeuvre their way through this highly lucrative, yet complex sector.

Keynote speakers included Special Advisor to the Muslim Council of Britain – Sir Iqbal Sacranie and Founder of the World Halal Forum – Hajjah Jumaatun Azmi. The line-up of speakers featured industry captains and key drivers of the global Halal industry who covered topics such as EU legislation on labelling of Halal products, a manufacturer’s overview of Halal from farm to fork, media views on Muslim consumers, travel and hospitality, pharmaceuticals and personal care products, and investment to name a few.

“We are grateful that the World Halal Forum has given us the platform to once again reiterate what is in need for the subject of Halal to be clearly understood; for there to be some standardisation, for there to be some clarity, so that we are able to discharge the heavy responsibilities that we have”, said Sir Iqbal Sacranie in his keynote address at the opening of the World Halal Forum Europe.

Founder of World Halal Forum, and Founder and Managing Director of KasehDia Sdn Bhd, Hajjah Jumaatun Azmi has emphasised the importance of Europe as a key platform for developing the global Halal industry and using it as a means of stimulating economic growth, especially in a time of recession.

“There are many Halal-related issues that are relevant for the UK and Europe in general, so after the first World Halal Forum Europe in The Hague in 2009, London seemed an obvious choice. We also believe that decisions and projects that are initiated in London will have a strong ripple-effect across the other Halal markets around the world, especially in the non-Muslim world.

Dubbed the “Third 1 billion” alongside China and India as an emerging market, the Halal industry which caters to 1.8 billion Muslims promises lucrative returns for those with an understanding of the complexities within the industry, sparking off a trend of multinationals and large companies such as Nestle, Quick, KFC, and Tesco offering a Halal range of products and services.

In relation to the social and consumer trends associated with the growing Halal industry, Project Director of World Halal Forum Europe, Abdalhamid Evans said “the growing Halal industry reflects the emergence of a new ethical consumer base within European Muslim communities. A new generation of European Muslims increasingly desire more authentic Halal produce whose social benefit overlaps with modern day ethical consumer practices like environmental friendliness, organic consumption and fair trade.”

Sir Iqbal Sacranie, on the issue of Halal food integrity in the UK, said “We must also be aware of the huge deception, the fraud, the inappropriate supply of Halal food and meat that is being provided in the country. How long will this remain and brushed under the carpet? It is a fact. It is a reality. It’s not just an issue of morality and ethics that we need to conform to. It’s a real issue of us being answerable to our Creator. And whether you are a believer or a non-believer, at the end of the service you’re providing to the consumer, it is he who suffers or benefits from it, and therefore on that basis alone, it is a huge responsibility on us as individuals.”

The conference also analysed the effects of recent EU meat labeling legislation on Europe’s Halal meat sector, and at the conclusion of the Forum, the panel announced that they will make a stand against this Act as it is detrimental to the Halal industry overall.

The need for an accreditation body that would look into upholding Halal integrity was also one of the main resounding concerns of the delegates as well as the panelists. Although  the International Halal Intergrity Alliance (IHI Alliance) currently fills the gap as the international accreditation body, working towards forming one Global Halal Standard for the benefit of the global Halal industry, it welcomed the formation of accreditation bodies that would focus on the Halal market in The UK and in the USA. Darhim Hashim, CEO of IHI Alliance stated during the resolution formation session:

“Although we have currently taken on the role as an accreditation body and have come up with published modules towards the development of one united Global Halal Standard, we would welcome regionally focused accreditation bodies as this would strengthen the market further. We are currently filling the gap, and I’d like to reiterate that the objective of IHI Alliance is not solely to act as an Accreditation body, but as a global Halal authority, upholding Halal integrity and developing the markets across the world.”

Over the two days, sessions covered topics such as: Certification and consumer protection, new European legislation on labelling for Halal and Kosher meat products, challenges from genetic modification and cloning, developing the cosmetics and pharmaceutical sectors, Investment potential in the Halal sector, the rise of Halal-friendly travel, legal implications of religious descriptions on product labels, key issues for Halal products manufacturer, the emergence of national Halal accreditation bodies in the global market, developing a Halal accreditation agency for the UK, rising consumer power in the Halal sector, reaching consumers through digital media.

Confirmed speakers and panellists included senior representatives from the following companies and organisations:  The Muslim Council of Britain; Australian Meat Industry Council (Chairman Halal Committee), Australia; Unitas Communications Ltd, UK; Kingston University, UK; Chadbourne and Parke LLP (Lawyers) UK; European Muslim Union, Germany; Cert ID Europe Ltd, UK; Saaf International Ltd, UK; International Halal Integrity Alliance Ltd, Malaysia; Chemical Company of Malaysia CCM, Malaysia; Dinar Standard, USA;, Singapore; FoodChain Europe Ltd, UK; Volys Star, Belgium; HalalFire Media, UK;, Finland; American Halal Association, USA; Lyon Grand Mosque, France; Euro Quality Lambs; European Halal Development Agency, UK; Janan Meat, UK; Ogilvy Noor, UK; University of Greenwich, UK.

As of 2009, the Halal industry in Europe was worth $64bn. It is set to grow to cater to Europe’s fast growing Muslim community, which is expected to double from 52 million to 100 million within the next 20 years. The global halal industry is currently worth $2.3 trillion.

The World Halal Forum Europe 2010 was hosted by IHI Alliance and with meals and refreshments sponsored by Volys Star, one of the poultry industry’s pioneers in Europ;e.

[1] KasehDia Research & Consultancy’s European Halal Food Sector Report 2009