Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Highlighting opportunities in the Halal Sector for sheep meat

The Halal market adds value to the sheep market in particular and represents an increasing opportunity for the cattle sector. This week’s guest blogger, AHDB Beef and Lamb’s head of supply chain business development Dr Phil Hadley, takes a look at the opportunities presented for farmers and processors.

The Halal market presents a significant market opportunity which UK producers and processors can capitalise on, particularly when it comes to sheep meat.

The key, of course, is to fully understand the market, manage flocks carefully and keep a keen eye on the Islamic calendar to plan production accordingly, to deliver products at key times of the year to maximise the market’s full potential.

Sheep meat is a primary protein choice for Muslim consumers, and with a UK population of 2.7 million – 4.8 per cent of the total population – there is a clear market for sheep meat producers to capitalise on. The Muslim community consumes around 20 per cent of all the sheep meat sold in England, with consumption peaking around the Ramadan and Eid festivals.

It’s imperative for producers to know the market and prepare accordingly, by establishing with their outlets what plans are in place to target the Muslim market throughout the year. Ramadan, for example, falls in the ninth lunar month of the Islamic calendar when nothing is eaten between dawn and sunset. Food is, however, celebrated at larger social gatherings in the evenings, helping drive up demand. The Islamic calendar is lunar based and so dates move back about 10-11 days every year. This year Ramadan began on June 18. Next year it will begin on June 7, underlining why it is so important for producers to keep a close eye on the Islamic calendar and to plan production accordingly.

Similarly, the festival of Eid-al-Ahda – is held approximately 70 days after the end of Ramadan, where it is incumbent upon every Muslim to follow in the footsteps of the Prophet Abraham and have an animal slaughtered as an offering to God. Called the Qurbani, meat is received in three portions – one for the person buying, one for friends and neighbours and one for charity, again helping drive a spike in demand. During this period the community looks for mature animals aged six months or older that are fit, healthy and lean.

We’re often asked what AHDB Beef and Lamb does to help the sector. In short, we’re doing more all the time. We have produced a number of resources to help the industry harness the potential of the Halal market. Our
Halal Meat Facts booklet, for example, outlines key statistics and the opportunities presented by the sector in the UK and in export markets. Other resources include our halal cuts posters and the Lamb Cutting Guide for the Halal market, developed as a training tool and to provide a single comprehensive specification to ensure consistency throughout the Halal industry. Our Halal seminar earlier this year provided a platform for the industry to discuss opportunities and challenges facing the sector.

AHDB Beef and Lamb is also currently working on several other projects to highlight the potential the Halal market offers which we hope to unveil later this summer. As I’ve said, UK sheep producers are ideally placed to reap the rewards offered by the Halal sector. One of AHDB Beef and Lamb’s aims will be to continue to be working with industry to help ensure it harnesses the potential of this sector to its fullest.

Further information on Halal can be found in the Halal section of the AHDB Beef and Lamb Trade website
www.qsmbeefandlamb.co.uk and the Corporate Publications section of the AHDB Beef and Lamb website beefandlamb.ahdb.org.uk.