With the Muslim world showing rapid population growth, economic development, and increased disposable income, the global halal market now accounts for 16% of the entire global food industry. With no single worldwide industry standard for certification of halal products, SGS’s partnership with the Halal Authority Board (HAB) provides a strong option for halal certification and training which can be delivered anywhere in the world.

According to a recent report, published by the World Halal Forum, global trade in halal food and beverages is currently estimated to be worth around ca. USD 1.4 trillion annually1. With Islam now considered to be the second largest religion, and the fastest growing, Muslims are soon expected to represent the largest share of global consumer spending2.

It has been reported that the halal market is currently worth 16% of the entire global food industry and is predicted to rise to 20% in the near future – with Asia, Africa and Europe accounting for 63%, 24% and 10% respectively3. Although no official figures have been provided, the halal market is estimated to contribute between 40 and 100 billion EURO to the European Economy2.

Population Expansion Drives Growth

The main drivers of halal growth have been: a growing Muslim population, economic growth within the Muslim world, and increased disposable income1.

For reasons of religious observance, halal meat is the preferred meat of Muslims. It has been shown that 75% of Muslims living in the US and 84% of Muslims in France, always eat halal meat. In addition to its religious value, consumers are attracted by some of the central tenets in Islam: to preserve life, to safeguard future generations and to maintain self-respect and integrity. In addition to this, health, respect for animal welfare and a degree of acculturation have also been noted as important drivers4.

The rapid growth in halal meat sales mirrors the growth in the Muslim population - recently estimated to account for 26% of the global population. Recent data has shown that, between 2009 and 2014, countries with a predominantly Muslim population have seen substantial increases in fresh meat sales – the United Arab Emirates reported growth of 33%, Egypt reported 28% growth, and Morocco reported 19%. Asia Pacific, Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia also shared significant growth in fresh meat sales of up to 54%2. The majority of meat sold, if not all, is considered to be halal by default; any non-halal meat is clearly labelled to cater for the non-Muslim population.

Food Service Operators Meeting Demand

In countries where the Muslim population is considered to be an important minority (up to 10% of the local population) e.g. Germany, France, and United Kingdom, food service represents the main channel contributing to the rise in the demand for halal meat and meat products. Germany is the largest market for Middle Eastern full-service restaurants (value retail sales of 2.3 billion EURO in 2014), while the UK is considered to be the leader market, amongst the Western Europe countries, in Middle Eastern fast-food offering halal meat (value sales of 3.7 billion EURO in 2014) and the largest market for halal chicken fast-food (value sales of 2.7 billion EURO in 2014)2.

Defining and Qualifying Halal

Muslim consumers increasingly desire and demand the adoption of a quality assurance approach that guarantees the halal process standards. Such an approach would require a formal certification and labelling strategy to reassure consumers of the quality and authenticity of halal meat, whilst improving shopping convenience and choice. Halal certification is not yet globally standardised, but its need is internationally recognised. Apart from its religious significance and its ‘seal of quality’ perception amongst consumers, halal certification provides reliable and independent authentication, and a means of claim substantiation. ‘Authentic halal’ is a cause of controversy amongst certifying bodies and Muslim countries, as halal is widely defined by the choice and effectiveness of stunning methods used in animal slaughter.

Halal is a process associated with religious belief and as such it would be difficult to control and guarantee. From the consumer point of view, it is the authenticity of halal certification that is difficult to evaluate. Therefore, when purchasing halal products, consumers have to largely rely on the seller and/or trust the information provided on the product label. In the case of halal, the trust associated with the product label would be all about the halal process attributes, including handling and safety. The latter has been linked with the effectiveness of the slaughtering process leading to complete animal bleed out, therefore ensuring that blood, a potential source of bacterial contamination, is removed, which results in healthier meat.

Preserving Identity and Supporting Religious Obligations

The concept of halal certification was initiated in the United States in the mid-1960s as a necessary safety measure for Muslims living in a non-Muslim society. It was introduced with the aim of preserving Muslim identity and assisting with religious obligations. The halal quality standard was originally designed to encompass product supply and manufacturing of processed food, cosmetics, pharmaceutical and medical products. However, it has gradually been extended to cover services involved in halal product logistics. The halal concept is no longer confined to food or other products, but also covers the process of handling, packaging, storage, transportation and delivery. Halal certification is considered to be the prerequisite for entering the global halal market, helping companies meet local requirements, expand their marketplace and increase their sales and revenue5, 6.

Certification is important in ensuring compliance to Islamic Law. It is also an important building block in generating trust amongst consumers concerning the authenticity and reliability of halal products. A clear and standard approach to audit and certification, along with full awareness and transparency in terms of compliance requirements and expectations, would allow the food industry to build a stable infrastructure, capable of meeting customer expectations.

With no globally recognised certification scheme for halal produce, there has been a rise in the number of country-specific halal certification bodies. This, in turn, has contributed to the overall confusion around what constitutes halal and this represents a challenge to the growth of the halal market.

Certification Bodies

It is estimated that there are currently around 122 active halal certification bodies around the world, including local government departments that have taken charge of halal certification in countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines. Some of those certification bodies are non-profit organisations, government agencies, private for-profit businesses, as well as some private individuals. There are also instances of self-certification by some groups and individuals, which has the potential to undermine certification trust.

Apart from credibility, recognition and acceptance by importing countries (e.g. Malaysia, Indonesia, UAE, etc), the following were identified as important criteria for the selection of a halal scheme and halal certification body7:

  1. Resource availability: responsiveness in handling paperwork; providing auditors at the plants on a timely basis; and in doing routine inspections at a defined frequency during the year
  2. Willingness to work with the company on problem solving
  3. Ability to clearly explain their halal standards and their fee structure
  4. Whether or not an agency’s halal standards meet the company’s needs in the marketplace; meaning the acceptability among the consumers and importers

As a leading provider of certification, verification, inspection and testing services, with a global reach, SGS is happy to discuss all aspects of halal certification and training. Our partnership with the HAB, a European based Muslim halal certification organisation, offers this industry an opportunity to meet the demand for authentic, safe and affordable halal food, whilst at the same time adhering to the strictest religious principles defined in HAB’s transparent and comprehensive halal supply chain standard.

For further information, please contact:

Dr Evangelia Komitopoulou
Global Technical Manager – Food
t: +44 (0)7824 089985


1 Farouk, M.M. (2013) Advances in the industrial production of halal and kosher red meat. Meat Science, 95, 805-820.

2 Euromonitor (2015) Doing Business in the Halal Market- Products, Trends and Growth Opportunities.

3 Van der Spiegel, M., van der Fels-Klerx, H.J., Sterrenburg, P., van Ruth, S.M., Scholtens-Toma, I.M.J. and Kok, E.J. (2012) Halal assurance in food supply chains: Verification of hala certificates using audits and laboratory analysis, Trends in Food Science & Technology, 27, 109-119.

4 Bonne, K., and Verbeke, W. (2008) Muslim consumer trust in halal meat status and control in Belgium, Meat Science, 79, 113-123.

5 Mathew, V.N., Ardiana Mazwa Raudah binti Amir Abdullah, and Siti Nurazizah binti Mohamad Ismail (2014) Acceptance on Halal Food among Non-Muslim Consumers, Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 121, 262- 271.

6 Noordin,N., Nor Laila Md Noor, and Samicho, Z. (2014) Strategic Approach to Halal Certification System: An Ecosystem Perspective, Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 121, 79- 95.

7 Chaudry, M.M., and Riaz, M.N. (2014) Halal Food Requirements, Safety of Food and Beverages, 3, 486-491.