France: 57% of Muslims regularly buy halal

France: 57% of Muslims regularly buy halal

The idea that supply drives demand may sound counter-intuitive, but as far as religious matters go, that is certainly true for the Jewish community.


Meanwhile, the Swedish Veterinary Association and the Swedish agricultural minister Eskil Erlandsson, are concerned that halal meat is making its way into Sweden.  EU regulations allow for slaughter without stunning, and Sweden is the only one who got an exception.  Eskil Erlandsson recommends that Swedish consumers should buy meat only from countries which stun their animals, and demand certification from the dealers.

Many Muslims and Jews accept meat from animals which were stunned prior to slaughter.  Swedish-produced halal meat fulfills the Swedish requirements.

Johan Beck-Friis of the Swedish Veterinary Association says this is not an issue of freedom of religion, but rather of animal welfare.  Just as we do not accept female genital mutilation or corporal punishments, there is no reason to accept animals suffering in a manner contrary to Swedish law.  They demand clear labeling of whether an animal was stunned before slaughter.

He says that in September EU veterinary experts and ministers met in the basement of a Brussels slaughterhouse.  There he saw that the cattle were being slaughtered without stunning, to be sold as halal meat.  The slaughterhouse foreman said that 100% of the sheep and many of the cows - probably all - were slaughtered in such a way.  All this while the EU politicians were discussing animal welfare a floor below them.  Johan Beck-Friis says he's not surprised that Swedish importers don't check their meat, since he doesn't think they have any ambition to do so.


According to an Ifop study, close to 60% of Muslims routinely buy ritually slaughtered meat.

In religious matters, supply creates demand.  Since they can easily buy ritually slaughtered meat, Muslims are eating more every day.  Close to 60% routinely buy Muslim meat, according to a new survey conducted by Ifop.  Another 15% said they do so 'most of the time'.  In total, three quarters of the sample, representative of Muslims living in France, whether foreigners or French, say they eat halal meat.

The survey, though limited, provides an outline of a well-known market.  Since halal isn't managed by a central organization,  and is taken over by various branches, multiple certifiers and a distribution network which is still traditional despite its rapid expansion.  This boom is largely based on the elderly and in particular pensioners.  The first generation immigrants, who hadn't eaten halal in the past due to lack of suppliers, are now the premier customers of religious and exotic products.  They're recreating the eating pattens of their countries of origin, re-Islamisizing their meals.  Among those, traditions are meeting up with religious practice, often intensely.
Jérôme Fourquet of  Ifop says that among the following generations, behavior is individualized.  Most believers obviously buy certified products, constantly demanding more certification.  But consumption is also an identity rite: 44% of those who never go to a mosque, always eat halal.  Especially since halal snacks are available everywhere, competing with fast-food.  Less than half of 3rd generation Muslims say they routines eat halal meat.    The Ifop expert says that the younger, more urban and more educated one is, they attach less importance to halal standards.  The Paris region, which has more professionals and children of immigrants, has less halal-food followers.  Conversely, 84% say they eat halal in the north-east, and 82% in the south-west.  A predominance of halal which yet remains to be explained.  The smaller the town, the more food is communal.  Finally, consumption varies dramatically based on country of origin.

As product lines develop, families buy sweets, ready-made meals.. and are limited only if the price is deemed high.  When they do not buy halal, they pay close attention to the ingredients.  Sites for Muslim consumers post letters demanding details on ingredients, sometimes surfing on the rumors. Pork is particularly 'hunted', as is alcohol.

With halal becoming common at home, 57% of Muslims interviewed, say they mind when they have to eat non-religious food in the cafeteria, restaurant or by friends.  Young people are more open, but still 45% regret the absence of halal food.  The imam of Bordeaux, Tariq Oubrou, says one can manage in any circumstances, and don't have to eat the meat, for example.  He advocates a discrete practice, which doesn't separate from others.  But the success of  halal is based as much on religious tradition as it is on identity-rites being observed more widely.  About 25% of respondents support a boycott of 'products of large companies, American for example, to protest their attitudes or that of their government vis-a-vis Islam and Muslim countries.

Source: SvD (Swedish), Le Figaro (French)

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