Halal Food – The Genesis, the Trend and Everything in Between
Islamic religion’s solicitude with cleanliness and purity of food dates back to the genesis of the religion itself. Compliance with the right food and beverage consumption practices is the key aspect that is integral to the proper Islamic observance. Additionally, the tradition that Islam advocates, explicitly states that the degree of purity of an individual is directly proportional to the food and beverage that is consumed. Thus, the identity pertaining to religious affiliation is based on a lifestyle that is adhered to rather than the degree of what is believed. The dos and don’ts pertaining to which food should be consumed and which food shouldn’t be consumed that are inclusive of but not limited to restrictions on intoxicants like alcohol, delineate the observers of the Islamic religion who are referred to as Muslims from non-observers. The conceptualizations of food and beverage that are deemed acceptable were originally associated with Arabia’s topography and climate where scarcity necessitated rationing and then methods of alimentation as well as simultaneously being influenced by the anathemas among pre-Islamic religious and cultural practices. The eating habits observed within aforementioned practices frequently found their mention in Quran as well as ahadith (Singular form: hadith; the sayings of Prophet Muhammad and his associates & the texts which underscored Prophet’s Sunna or customs) where these habits were often denounced, thus rendering these texts normativity among the following Muslim generations. The aforesaid texts comprise the dictums that form the quintessence of halal Viz. prohibition against blood, pork, carrion, and alcohol consumption. Subsequently, a more intricate and strict articulation of this canonical interpretation was carried out by legal and juristic authorities of Islam.
In the current global scenario, geographical boundaries are blurred, food and beverage consumption patterns are being increasingly governed by experimentation and liberal dietary world views coupled with the enticing advertisement campaigns, are collectively making the task of determining the right eating and drinking as provisioned by Islamic laws a bit daunting. Further, the constantly changing circumstances are proving to be challenging for observers of Islam, for facilitating a standard interpretation and practice the same. Contrastingly, early Islamic interpretation of the constituent elements of Halal was more flexible than the present expectations. Moreover, other factors influencing the consideration of aspects, which are deemed fit within the ambit of Halal, have emerged too. For instance, Ayatollah Khomeini the 1st Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran had issued a fatwa in 1983 that permitted the consumption and trade of sturgeon caviar. This decision was enacted in spite of prohibitions against sturgeon observed by Shiite (Shi‘ite, Shi‘i) Islam due to certain needs of economic nature. Along the lines, it is important to note that practices of consuming machine-slaughtered or pre-stunned animals, the use of lecithin or gelatin in food manufacturing are being continuously reconsidered by Muslims around the world as these practices have no correlation with canonical sources of Islam. Thus, a perceptible gap (not necessarily a disconnect) in the availability of food and beverage that adheres to such laws is poised to emerge soon, which the Halal Food sector is inclined to bridge.
Beef and Veal Imports – Egypt (1,000 Metric Tons Carcass Weight Equivalent)
Source: Foreign Agricultural Service/USDA, April 2020
Thus, like any other industry, the food industry adjusts itself or make necessary changes within its operations as a response to the desire and needs of the consumers across the world. Besides the awareness of health and nutritional aspects of food is increasing exponentially, thanks to seamless connectivity and availability of relevant information, which is evidenced by the increasing inclination of consuming food that, for example, has low sodium, fat, calorific content. Additionally, many consumers are shifting towards food that is derived organically and is devoid of artificial elements and pesticides. To add to this, cultural and ethnic diversity is also contributing to the factors that influence consumer choices. Besides, as per the State of Global Islamic Economy Report 2019/2020, as of 2018, there were 1.8 billion Muslim consumers around the world and in the same year, they had spent an estimated US$2.2 trillion on food, pharmaceutical and lifestyle sectors that are influenced by the ethical consumption requirements as per Islamic faith. Additionally, the assets pertaining to Islamic finance had reached an estimated $2.5 trillion in 2018. Zeroing on food, there is a continuous endeavor of enhancing the certification and standards since, in recent years, the halal food market has witnessed the development of halal hubs, apps that are directing customers to restaurants and brands that observe halal practices, the emergence of a new platform pertaining to halal traceability whereby the entire supply chain comprising producers, auditors and certifying bodies are enabled to connect.
Beef and Veal Production – Pakistan (1,000 Metric Tons Carcass Weight Equivalent)
Source: Foreign Agricultural Service/USDA, April 2020
At a broader level, a US$1 billion agreement for a food manufacturing and processing plant in Dubai has been signed between UAE and China, whereas the launch of a Halal Lifestyle District that is to the tune of US$18 million has been Indonesia’s aspiration. The country also executed its Halal Economy Masterplan 2019 – 2024 through its National Shariah Finance Activity that has been recently established to develop a sound ecosystem of companies under the purview of halal food and products. There have been important developments in Turley’s halal food segment where the number of organizations from countries like Croatia, Russia, and Spain has reached out to the country to facilitate training and accreditation from the Halal Accreditation Agency of Turkey. Moreover, corporate-led acquisitions that have been primarily driven by cross-border consolidation in halal food among others are also a glaring example of the potential of the halal food market has. For instance, in October 2018, it was reportedly announced by Kerry Group that it has reached an agreement to acquire AATCO Food Industries LLC. among others to consolidate the company’s position as the market leader in taste and nutrition in the MENAT region. AATCO Food Industries LLC is a globally recognized provider of culinary sauces to foodservice channels that comprise a broad-spectrum customer portfolio spanning across leading FNCG and food service operators. Headquartered in Muscat, Oman with an efficient R&D facility, it also has manufacturing facilities in the country along with Saudi Arabia and India. With such opportunities and drivers, the halal food market size is poised to grow at a CAGR of 5.94% to reach the stratospheric heights, which is to the tune of US$ 2,047.163 billion in 2025 from US$ 1,448.094 billion in 2019.
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