‘The traceability is appealing to many consumers’: Halal food increasing in popularity in UK and Europe

By Augustus Bambridge-Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

Many consumers, including non-Muslims, are gravitating towards halal food because of its tracability. Image Source: SolStock/Getty Images
Many consumers, including non-Muslims, are gravitating towards halal food because of its tracability. Image Source: SolStock/Getty Images

Related tags Halal Halal certification Islam Meat

Halal food is growing in popularity in the UK and globally, suggests a new report from food futurologist Lyndon Gee, on behalf of halal convenience food manufacturer TAKUL. The report suggests due to both a growing Muslim middle-class spending more on food and even a growing number of non-Muslims seeing hygienic and ethical benefits, the market for halal food is showing no signs of slowing down.

Halal, which translates to ‘permissible’ in Arabic, is used to describe food prepared, processed and consumed in a specific way outlined in the Qur’an, the central religious text of Islam. It must be free from impurities or forbidden substances, and follow Islamic ideals of cleanliness and purity. Beverages, cosmetics and supplements, and even finance can also be halal.

A growing market

The UK’s Muslim population is growing, with immigration from countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Iran, Afghanistan, Türkiye and Somalia, as well as countries across Eastern Europe. The UK’s Muslim population is predicted to grow from four million today to 13m by 2050.

However, according to the report, sales of halal food are growing not just in the UK, but globally. Fortune Business predicts that the global halal food and beverages market will grow from $2.09 trillion in 2021 to $3.27 trillion by 2028.

Europe, not just the UK, is a key area of growth. “The European Muslim community is predicted to grow from the current 4.9% of the population to 7.4% by 2050​,” Lyndon Gee, who wrote the report, told FoodNavigator.

France is set to have the largest proportion, with 12.7% of the population. Inevitably this population growth will drive demand for halal products, and they will thus become more widely available. Consumers are already willing to eat foods they know are halal, for example from Indian, Middle Eastern or Moroccan restaurants. Many mainstream chains such as KFC and Nandos use halal chicken in areas with a high Muslim population​.”

Halal provides many opportunities for European businesses. “With ever larger abattoirs it makes commercial sense to slaughter more animals in the halal method, saving costs and enabling streamlined production lines which can serve both halal and non halal consumers.

As European manufacturers produce more halal food for their domestic market, more non-Muslim consumers will become exposed to it. If manufacturers can produce a product that satisfies both Muslim and non-Muslim consumers, they are onto a winner.

There is also huge potential for European producers to export halal products, which would lead to far higher halal production levels and thus more availability of halal foods on supermarket shelves​.”

One of the main reasons for the growth of the market is the growth of income for the average Muslim. More Muslims are reaching the middle classes, and more are becoming entrepreneurs in their own right. As well as putting more money into the market, this has enabled Muslims to travel more, meaning the market for halal has spread.

When it comes to UK Muslims, almost 50% are under 24, and Gen Z Muslim women are more likely to work than their mothers, meaning that the money in the halal food market is expected to increase as time goes on. These young Muslims, suggests the report, are time-poor and cash-rich, and looking for convenient halal foods. This opens up the market for companies such as TAKUL to release halal convenience foods.

TAKUL vegetable samosa pack

This has also meant a growing halal presence in street food markets, with London’s Camden market for example providing halal options in a range of different cuisines, from Chinese to Venezuelan to Austrian food.

Confidence in halal

Halal is also becoming popular with non-Muslims. One of the main reasons for this, the report suggests, is its stringent processing rules, which provide consumers with a sense of assurance that the product is safe, and adheres to certain ethical standards, that they won’t always get with other meat products.

The traceability is appealing to many consumers, particularly in countries which may not have the mandatory high production standards to which European producers must comply​,” Gee told us.

Depending on the certification body, animal welfare standards may also be higher. In the UK 87% of halal meat is stunned before slaughter; in many other European countries unstunned slaughter is banned​.”

It’s not just the ethical but hygienic standards that the food must meet. “The ongoing monitoring of hygiene and cleaning processes gives the consumer a consistent assurance of hygiene and food safety; as noted above, this is especially relevant in non-European countries where standards for other food products may not be as rigorously checked​.”

Halal must go through a certification process before being sold as such, which provides the foundation for such assurance. There are many certification bodies around the world, but there is a basic process that food must go through to be certified halal.

Before food is certified​,” Gee told us, “the premises are inspected for sanitation and cleaning regimes, even tracing cleaning products used. Documents showing traceability of all ingredients will be examined.

Through ongoing monitoring, halal certification is an assurance that a product has been thoroughly investigated and found to conform to Islamic Dietary Laws, as well as meeting applicable national and international laws. The certification process validates all aspects of the slaughter, manufacturing, processing, and distribution of the product​.”

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