Consumer Staples

Is a Halal food market boom on its way?

Kalyeena Makortoff | Special to
A halal butcher
Pascal Deloche | Getty Images

The halal food market has huge potential for growth after being "largely neglected" in the U.K. - despite the country's large Muslim population, the founder of the one of the world's largest Halal food festivals told CNBC.

Some of the biggest names in British retail will be attending this weekend's consumer food show dedicated entirely to halal produce, with supermarkets including Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury's and Asda sending buyers, along with high-end department store Harrods.

"Business can appreciate the sheer size of the market, and it has largely been neglected," said Imran Kausar, a former doctor who founded the Halal Food Festival. "The West if finally twigging onto the fact that that there's a huge market here."

(Read more: McDonald's Retreats From Selling Halal Food After Lawsuit)

He highlighted that vegetarians make up three percent of the U.K.'s population, whereas Muslims comprise nearly five percent, according to 2011 census data, but stressed: "It would be unheard of to walk into a restaurant or grocer and not have a vegetarian option."

A Pew Research study from 2012 forecast that Muslims will make up over 8 percent of Britain's population by 2030 - and the vast majority of these will continue to govern their consumption by halal standards, Kausar said.

Strict guidelines

Translated as "permissible" or "lawful," halal food is cuisine prepared according to Islamic guidelines. These state that the animal faces no undue stress up until the point of slaughter, which must be conducted by a Muslim. A sharp knife is used to cut the animal's throat, after which the blood is drained.

(Read more: Halal FoodsExpand Reach in France)

While beef and chicken can be halal, pork and derived gelatine products – often found in in candy - are strictly off limits.

According to Bryan Roberts, director of retail insights at Kantar Retail, the existence of the Halal Food Festival suggests the produce is becoming more mainstream, with brands and retailers looking to boost their halal offerings.

Among the major retailers, Tesco and Asda are ahead of the curve when it came to halal food, Roberts said. These supermarkets offer a range of halal products, and even have halal butcher counters in some stores, operated by third parties.

Tapping the market

Well-known food brands including Kellogg's, Kingsmill, Hellmans, Krispy Kreme and McCain have also tapped the sector, all certifying halal products under the U.K.'s Halal Food Authority (HFA).

The market is already significant in Britain, with the Halal Monitoring Committee putting its value at between £4.2 billion-5 billion in the U.K. alone. This gives it a share of around 5 percent of the U.K.'s total agricultural food market, which the U.K. Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs valued at £96.1 billion in 2011.

But the sector in Britain could be about to shift,according to Saqib Mohammed, the acting chief executive of the HFA.

"The halal meat market might reach its super saturation level within very few years," he told CNBC. Instead, Mohammed expects more opportunities in halal food additives and ingredients, animal feed, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.

But although a few health and beauty vendors made the Halal Food Festival list, gastronomy dominates, with traditional halal cuisine sitting alongside some more unusual offerings. Some 100 vendors from around the world will exhibit ranges of products that include gourmet hot dogs, vegan-friendly sushi and even halal candy.