For the past decade, the halal market industry has grown significantly. In the Southeast Asian region alone, countries like Malaysia and Singapore experience a growth rate of 18% and 19% respectively over the past five years. Even in countries without a significant Muslim majority, the growth rate is booming at an unprecedented rate, with countries like South Africa boasting a 96% increase. How has a market initially known to be only a niche industry for the Islamic community grown so large and profitable?
One reason is the increasing number of the Muslim population around the world. This
is especially true with regards to the Muslim diaspora – communities who have migrated from Islamic countries to other parts of the world – which enlarges the availability of purchasers and other subscribers to the halal market in other countries such as the United Kingdom. Around 2011, according to the Office of National Statistics in the United Kingdom, the population of Muslims in the UK were approximately 2,706,066 – around 4.5% of the total population. Now the numbers have increased tremendously. Based upon an article in the International Business Times: “The number of people practicing the religion of Islam in the United Kingdom exceeds 3 million for the first time, with more than half of them born abroad. With high birth-rates among the demographic, some London neighbourhoods are nearly 50 percent Muslim and are expected to be majority
Muslim in the next 10 years, according to the Office for National Statistics.”
It’s also worth considering that the halal market is not just limited to food. The halal market also expands towards pharmaceuticals, clothing and personal care items such as toothpastes, cosmetic products and many more. The availability of these options across a variety of sectors further accelerates the growing number of demand, which in turn spur more industries to make more products for the market.
Furthermore, there is also an increasing demand for high quality products with rising standards of animal welfare and healthy choices. Halal products often go through a lot of checks with regards to the ingredients that go into making other products. The rigorous process involved ensures the food comes from a healthy and organic source. A Time article quoted Rasheed Ahmed, founder and president of Muslim Consumer group, who stated that, “criteria for certification are a bit stricter than others; for example, MCG won’t certify fish if it’s farm-raised, since it’s not clear whether they fish was fed animal by-products. Only wild-caught fish are Halal certified by MCG standards.”
As for claims that halal products are more humane in its treatment of animals, Carol O’Neil, professor of nutrition and food sciences at Louisiana State University Agricultural Centre noted that Halal practices may be more humane for the animal, and therefore that may make a difference for some people.
The halal market holds a lot of promise in the future of the global economy. It is wide and diverse, extending its reach towards countries outside of the Muslim world. And with the overall increasing in numbers with regards to growth rates, and the sprouting of many industries looking to extract and profit from the halal market, the future of halal does not seem to be stopping anytime soon.