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Fri 10 Jul 2009 04:00 AM

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The halal revolution

There is a food revolution going on that is impacting F&B producers and suppliers around the globe, says Lucy Taylor.

The halal revolution

There is a revolution going on - a food revolution that is, one that is impacting F&B producers and suppliers around the globe.

Halal foodstuffs are par for the course in the Middle East and in many other countries with a sizeable Muslim population. But today, demand for halal products is growing exponentially. Indeed, according to the Kuala Lumpur-based Halal Journal, the global halal food industry is currently worth around US $632 billion per year.

So is this the future - is halal going to continue to grow until it is no longer a regional practice but a standard requirement across the globe?

Taking the booming meat export market as an example, it certainly seems that way - as Country Hill International's Hamish McKerrow points out.

"We've been exporting meat from Austalia for 20 years and have had a really strong relationship with the Middle East for about five of those years," says McKerrow. "But today we're seeing an increased demand for halal meat right across the globe."

Corry de Wit, managing director of the European office for the State of Georgia's Department of Agriculture, adds: "We are seeing a tendency to more halal food products, in stores, restaurants and fast food chains - and interestingly, we're seeing this more and more in Europe."

Shangri-La Qaryat Al-Beri's new executive chef Gary Robinson says there's no doubt the halal market means big business for companies that can adapt. "An awful lot of suppliers carry [halal products] now because the Muslim market is everywhere," he asserts.

"If you think about it, offering non-halal items limits a supplier's market - and offering both non-halal and halal products means financing separate storage facilities, transport and so on.

"So making your whole operation halal is actually the most cost-efficient method of production. It would almost be easier if all suppliers did things that way," he says.

Bin Hendi Hospitality executive chef Peter Tan also believes "meat suppliers will eventually become totally halal".

"It makes sense to streamline their operations and ensure everything is killed according to halal customs," he reasons.

It seems halal means big business - not just for the Middle East, but the whole world. So suppliers, get your ops in order: the halal revolution is coming, ready or not.

Lucy Taylor is the editor of Caterer Middle East.

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