Industry players competing for Europe’s halal market

KUALA LUMPUR: Industry players are now competing to get a significant share of the halal industry market in Europe which has a population of 51.2 million Muslims.“Everyone now wants a slice of the halal market,” said Dr Cedomir Nestorovic, a professor at the ESSEC Business School Paris in France.

According to him, halal is now regarded as a ‘big thing’ in Europe and is no longer a taboo subject in the mainstream media.

Presenting a paper at the recent World Halal Forum (WHF) Europe 2009, Nestorovic said the halal industry was growing bigger with intense competition among the players to expand their market share.

“Communication on halal food is no more exotic or ethnic as the halal food market in Europe, particularly in France, is increasingly strong.

“I foresee that communication will be the decisive differentiation point, especially for halal certification and promotion campaigns,” he said.

Held at the World Forum Convention Centre in The Hague, Netherlands, on Nov 17 and 18, WHF Europe 2009 was organised KasehDia Sdn Bhd, which has been promoting the World Halal Forum since 2006.

Held for the first time outside Malaysia, the event was aimed at tapping the enormous potential of the halal market in Europe.

During the two-day session, participants and speakers agreed that awareness on halal products and certification has been increasing in Europe during the past years.

Advertising campaigns on halal products, certification and labels are also on the rise in Europe, particularly in France which has an estimated Muslim population of five million.

World Fair Trade Organisation’s president Paul Meyers said in his paper that both the halal and fair trade shared the same values.

The world’s halal market is currently estimated at US$2.1 trillion annually, with growth potential evident as halal products and services are not limited to Muslim consumers but also poised to gain increasing acceptance among non-Muslims.

This is because consumers normally perceive halal products as having undergone stringent inspection and quality standard controls.

The halal food market in Europe, which has the third largest concentration of Muslims after Asia and Africa, is expected to reach US$6.7 billion this year.

The higher purchasing power of European Muslims and the growing number of educated Muslims in the labour market have contributed towards the strong growth of halal food consumption while the trade potential is rapidly increasing.

Furthermore, the world has been facing various food crisis of variable nature such as mad cow disease and causes were traced to various possibilities of negligence that resulted in contaminated animal feel and chemical residue.

In view of this, Dr Jochen P Zoller, president of Germany’s Intertek Food Services, believes that the emergence of halal market has seen the evolution in understanding of halal values.

“Halal is not just about non-alcoholic or non-porcine food but actual values as prescribed in the divine revelation,” he said in his paper on ‘Growth of Halal Products in the Retail Market’.

According to Zollar, halal food characteristics include religiously clean, hygienically handled, nutritious, good quality and safe.

In this context, he said halal values incorporate three main important values which are animal welfare, fairness including in trade practices, and a good balance.

“The trend of making halal products has been picked up by large corporations like Nestle, GSK and Carrefour,” Zollar said.

“There’s a huge potential in consumer food products and now it has expanded to personal care, healthcare and pharmaceutical products. Halal is an economy by itself,” he said.

The forum saw the participation of key industry players from 33 countries and strong representation from Europe, Southeast Asia, Africa, the Middle East, the United States and Australia.

Among the issues was Islamic halal slaughter methods which continued to be heavily debated by certain groups, especially animal rights activists, and WHF Europe provided a platform for them to voice out their views.

World Halal Forum’s founder and managing director Jumaatun Azmi, who is also managing director of KasehDia, said the forum was fruitful and motivating.

“It gave participants the opportunity to discuss all issues pertaining to the halal industry, including the halal slaughter controversy which has become a major argument in Europe,” she said. — Bernama

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