The Halal Food Authority says the market is growing and punching above its weight. "Muslims make up 3% of the population and yet 10% by value of meat sales are halal," says HFA audit and inspection manager Saqib Mohammed. "The number of clients we are accrediting annually is going up by about 10%, with 40 accredited this year."
The core halal market is still dominated by specialist butchers but this is slowly starting to change. When Mintel put out its last report on halal food in 2002, supermarket halal sales were valued at a tiny £400,000. Over the past few years, the market has expanded, however, with Asda and Tesco in particular introducing dozens of new halal butchers' concessions in their stores across the country.
Asda is planning to double the number of National Halal Food concessions from 10 to 20 in the near future and Tesco is considering a National Halal expansion after recently opening counters in two stores. National Halal chief executive Muhammed Yaqoob believes there is capacity to support 50 such concessions within three years and is in talks with other supermarkets, including Sainsbury's and Morrisons.
Asda has also taken advantage of local expertise at its Hounslow store, opening a concession run by local halal butcher Haji Baba in September. There is scope to open more concessions in the coming months, it believes.
Category growth is not just being driven by meat sales. Major brands with an eye to the Muslim market from Polos, Galaxy and Fisherman's Friend to Quorn have ensured they now have a halal mark on their products to denote the absence of any non-halal ingredients.
Asda, meanwhile, is trying to appeal to British Asians with a very British halal offer. "We've been working with a company called Halal Kitchen for the past few months, offering sandwiches and ready meals," says Cathryn Ramsden, customer planner of Asda's emerging markets team. "These ready meals are British-style dishes like shepherd's pie and sausage rolls."
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