Beurger King Muslim, serves only halal meats
The study, 2010 World Muslim Population, found that the total population of Europe is 735 million, of which 49 million are Muslim. Or to look at it in terms of the world, Muslims constitute 24 percent of the world population which is the equivalent of 1.65 billion people. It is expected that this number will increase by one percentage point each decade. With this in mind, it's been predicted that the business of selling halal food is set to grow rapidly in Europe.
Frits van Dijk, executive vice president at the world's biggest food group, Nestlé, told Reuters during the World Halal Forum in The Hague that he expects the halal food business in Europe to grow by 20 to 25 percent within the next decade as more supermarkets target the sector, Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation reported.
The total European halal food market is currently valued at around US$66 billion, including meat, fresh food and packed food, while the global market is worth around US$634 billion.
"We are starting to see that these products are not just in speciality shops but are also starting to get into the mainstream of modern retailers," said Van Dijk, pointing to Britain's Tesco and France's Carrefour, which stock halal goods.
The halal industry is based on a belief that Muslims should eat food and use goods such as cosmetics that are "halalan toyibban," which means permissible and wholesome.
Milk powder, cooking aids, seasoning, and sauces are among the most popular halal products in Europe at the moment.
Nestlé has recently started selling a range of meat-based and frozen food halal products in France, Van Dijk said.
Nestlé is the world's leading manufacturer of halal food, selling about 5.3 billion Swiss francs (US$5.23 billion) worth of halal food in 2008, about five percent of its annual revenue.
Its established halal food markets include Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey and Middle Eastern countries, while France, Britain and Germany are emerging as its key halal markets in Europe.
"Twenty percent of the world's population is going to be Muslim one day and they have expectations, they have needs," said Van Dijk.
"If they want to be confident that what they eat and drink is in line with their beliefs, then a company likes ours has to make an extra effort to try and meet those needs."
Of Nestlé's 456 factories globally, 85 are now halal-certified but Van Dijk said different interpretations of halal standards around the world were a challenge for the industry.
The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) is working on a single standard to be applied in its 57 member countries, a move that would boost the industry.
Van Dijk said the industry needed more transparency and clearer labelling on products, which would help consumers make up their own minds about whether standards met their expectations.
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