Halal opportunity for West Midlands farmers

Livestock farmers in the Midlands are poised to enter the lucrative halal meat market.

Livestock farmers in the Midlands are poised to enter the lucrative halal meat market, thanks to a scheme which guarantees animals have been raised and slaughtered according to Islamic custom.

Following the completion of a research project carried out by the West Midlands Qurbani Project on behalf of Advantage West Midlands (AWM) and the West Midlands Minority Ethnic Business Forum, a new halal standard has been introduced, which is similar to the Red Tractor scheme.

The tagging and online certification system has been devised to meet the stringent halal requirements required by Islamic law and covers animal welfare, animal husbandary, livestock transport, halal slaughter and food processing.

The establishment of the UK's first halal 'farm to fork' traceability scheme offers an extremely lucrative opportunity for British farmers. There are currently around 2m Muslims living in the UK, but the FSA estimates there are 6m halal consumers nationwide and the UK halal market is worth around £2.8bn.

Michael Oakes, AWM rural affairs board member, said: "Farmers have taken some hard knocks in the past few years, such as foot-and-mouth, BSE, outbreaks of avian bird flu and bluetongue and restrictions on sales abroad. Now, for the red meat industry especially, the Qurbani Project has opened up major opportunities in the global market for halal meat products."

Around two-thirds of halal meat consumed in the UK is currently imported from abroad. It is hoped that the new system will reassure UK consumers that British halal meat has been produced in accordance within Islamic law, and so increase consumption of domestically produced meat.

Oakes added: "Under the Qurbani project devised here in the West Midlands, there will never be any doubt as to where the supplies have come from, or how the animals have been slaughtered.

"Improved traceability, in every aspect from farm to fork, is the added value that makes our scheme so acceptable."

The project has been welcomed by the National Farmers' Union, who said that it will open new markets for farmers in the Midlands and give consumers assurances that high-welfare standards will be operated throughout the supply chain.

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