Sept. 27 - Fans of halal food known as 'haloodies' congregate in London for Britain's first ever halal food festival. Melanie Ralph reports on the industry which is booming, thanks to growing demand from middle-class Muslims.
This is Britain's first ever halal food festival - celebrating the concept of food that has been followed from farm to fork. All the foods being showcased here are halal, meaning the ingredients and are made in accordance with Islamic law. Imran Kauser is the festival's founder. (SOUNDBITE)(ENGLISH) HALAL FOOD FESTIVAL FOUNDER IMRAN KAUSER SAYING: "I think the understanding of halal has been skewed by elements of the media, particularly as they're tied into other negative stories of Islam, and that was really one of the things that we hoped this festival could start to dispel." It's the halal slaughter process that's seen a backlash from animal rights campaigners. Usually an animal is stunned before slaughter but that doesn't always happen in the halal slaughter method. Rather, the animal's throat is slit whilst a special Islamic prayer is said. But after recent scares in the mainstream food market where beef was being substituted with horse meat, some people opt for halal much as they might choose free range or organic meat. PTC (ENGLISH) REPORTER MELANIE RALPH SAYING: The popularity of halal food in the UK is being attributed to the fact that the Muslim population is growing. Around 4 percent of the UK population are Muslim, with a spending power of over £20 billion a year. That's expected to more than double by 2030. But it's not only Muslims helping boost the £420 billion industry. London based butcher Zahid Chawdry has been here for over twenty five years and has seen business change dramatically. (SOUNDBITE)(ENGLISH) LONDON BUTCHER ZAHID CHAWDHARY SAYING: "Over the years we've seen more and more people coming into the market, more and more shops have opened up in different areas, I think that's very much attributed to the demand, but obviously the demand has increased so therefore the supply has to increase as well." Certainly some of the big supermarkets and restaurant chains in London are keen to tap into the industry's potential profits. At the moment the big brand businesses target areas with large Muslim populations. But the halal food festival may go some way to pushing halal even more into the mainstream. And with more than 20 thousand foodies, or 'haloodies', expected to walk through the doors here, some of those will be the big brands sniffing out just how big halal food could get here in Britain.