That’s according to Abdulla Mohammed Al Awar, chief executive of the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC). In a keynote address at Gulfood in Dubai last week, he said that halal’s inherent provenance would mean that it would appeal to non-Muslim consumers in countries plagued by food-safety concerns, if only they knew more about it.
“Awareness is key for Muslim and non-Muslim populations alike. Experts expect the latter to veer towards Halal due to rising concerns about unhygienic and unhealthy food,” Al Awar said.
He called on halal manufacturers to embrace issues like preparing for rising demand, protecting vulnerable people in times of supply volatility, and working towards ending hunger.
He also urged them to find ways to mitigate food production’s impact on climate change, and protect the global ecosystem.
Now that food safety, food production and food security had all topped the global agenda, maintaining the status quo was no longer an option, Al Awar said.
“The business-as-usual approach has led to severe challenges that are putting the next generation at risk,” he said, adding that the estimated number of overweight children had grown by 11m in 15 years to 42m in 2015.
Conversely, rising food prices, conflict-related food scarcity in countries like Syria, and natural disasters limit meant millions of other children were being malnourished.
More responsibility for sustainability and better ethics in the food industry were, he said, “the need of the hour”.
“As the halal culture has survived for thousands of years, we do not have to reinvent the wheel. We just need to improve it, add value and utilise innovative technology to expand its reach.”
DIEDC was formed when nine nations—America, Australia, Britain, Egypt, New Zealand, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia Spain and the UAE—agreed last year to establish a Dubai-based international halal accreditation forum.
Its strategy is to increase the global volume of the halal trade while helping diversity the UAE’s economy. To do this it is currently establishing a halal trade “ecosystem”, including a global standards mark, and positioning Dubai as the global hub for the halal industry.
The global halal market is expected to be worth US$3.7tr by 2019—an increase of 10.8% a year, according to a Global Islamic Economy Report from last year.
The same report ranked Muslim-majority Indonesia as the top market for halal food consumption, with a market worth US$190bn, Turkey, with a market valued at US$168bn, came second, followed by Pakistan’s US$108bn market, based on 2013 data.