Byline: Aatif Majid – founder and director of Halal Expo London

Mention ‘halal’ and most people think of meat.

While this has been the core of the industry, the halal market is now so much more. Halal means ‘permissible’ in Arabic and is a term used to describe anything permitted under Islamic law as prescribed by the Qur’an.

From travel agents and tour operators, banks and financial service providers, fashion, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, publishing, logistics and governmental organisations, there are ‘halal’ elements to products and services in all these sectors.

It is easy to underestimate the scale of the halal market. It is vast. The UK halal market is today worth $4.5 billion and is expected to grow by 5 per cent each year until 2020. That makes it similar to the entire UK home takeaway food industry.

To meet this growing demand, the number of vendors stocking halal products, along with the range of products available, has boomed. Only five years ago, consumers could only choose from a limited variety of products available in select supermarkets.

Today, major national grocer chains like Asda, Sainsburys and Tesco an ever-increasing variety of halal-based products. This has also translated across the high street into the catering sector, with restaurants and fast food outlets offering halal options on their menus.

Widespread halal products and services, focused on ethical business, now cater to all aspects of Muslim life. For instance, over 20 fully Sharia compliant banks are licensed in Great Britain, offering a wide variety of financial services.

Prospective property owners can circumvent interest rates by purchasing an Islamic mortgage, while the banks and financial services companies supplying the home loans and other products such as pensions and insurance, do not invest their profits in gambling, alcohol or industries forbidden under Islam.

Modesty fashion is another rapidly expanding sector, with spending accounting for $44 billion globally.

What is behind this exciting market growth? Firstly, the Muslim population in the UK has increased and with it, opportunities to market to a wider customer base. Indeed, more than 90 per cent of Muslim shoppers claim that their faith affects their consumption.  Secondly the purchasing power of affluent Muslim millennials, who are willing to pay a premium for high quality, religiously observed products and services.

Manufacturers, distributors and vendors all want to tap into this fast growing and lucrative sector.

Whether an existing supplier looking to increase market share, or a new entrant, careful understanding and unique insight of the sector is needed, one that respects the traditions, values and preferences of the Muslim community.

The Halal Expo London takes place on 24th and 25th April at the ExCeL London.