LONDON – The growing number of British Muslim community presents a huge opportunity for the farming industry in the UK because of the high demand on framing products during Islamic festivals like `Eid Al-Adha, The Farmers Guardian reported on August 5.
With `Eid al-Adha coming on August 21, Livestock Auctioneers Association executive secretary, Chris Dodds, said he “was expecting a strong demand for quality lambs, particularly ram lambs. There will be a strong export market, with the main criteria for sheep being they meet the Qurbani specification.”
Marketing sheep at the right time and with the correct specifications was the key for farmers looking to take advantage of the growing Islamic market and its demand for sheepmeat.
With most sheepmeat supplied to the Halal trade sourced from the auction mart system, the livestock auction industry will play an important role in developing this market.
On his behalf, Rizvan Khalid, director of Euro Quality Lambs, the largest Muslim-owned lamb slaughterhouse in Europe, said: “It’s important to remember there are effectively two markets for the Eid Al-Adha period.”
On the expanding British Muslim demands for agricultural and farming products during Eid, he said: “Muslims performed Udhiyah abroad, but each year was seeing more demand for this slaughter in Britain, particularly from younger Muslims wanting to show their children it was ‘not just money to send abroad.”
Khalid continued that “While this was an opportunity, the festival moving back 10 or 11 days each year raised challenges, with lambs needing to be at least six months old when slaughtered.”
“It won’t suit everyone. We’re looking at assurance declarations where our buyer can say we can pay a bit more for that,” he explained.
The director also mentioned that: “Lambs also needed to be ‘plump and healthy’ with no defects and ‘as natural as possible. The charity element was crucial for Muslims and Khalid said last year they distributed 11 tons of fresh lamb to food banks.”
Misconceptions on Halal Meat
According to AHDB halal sector manager, Awal Fuseini, there were serious misconceptions about the nature of halal slaughter of sheep.
“While many believed halal animals were all slaughtered without stunning, 75-80% of animals in the halal market were stunned,” he informed.
On the debate of stunning and halal slaughtering, Fuseini also explained that: “The animal must be a permissible species; pigs aren’t consumable. The animal, according to the Qur’an, must be alive. There is debate as to whether it must be conscious or unconscious.”
He said stunning was acceptable for some Muslims, as long as the animal wasn’t brain dead so methods such as captive bolt stunning weren’t acceptable. He added most others would be more accepting where it could be proved stunning didn’t kill the animal.
“The person should be a Muslim or a person of the book – a Christian or Jew. However, there is a requirement for a prayer to be said. In the name of God, God is great,” said Fuseini.
Other requirements of halal slaughtering include that “the knife should be sharp and the length should be twice the diameter of the neck. In sheep, the method without stunning means the animal takes eight seconds to die.”
Exports to Europe also opened opportunities, with different weights favored by different European Muslim populations, dependent on their ethnic origin and the popularity of different dishes.
France and its basically North African Muslim population was Euro Quality Lamb’s number one market but there were also opportunities in Germany with a mainly Turkish Muslim community. That’s while the expanding Muslim customers in the UK are mainly from South Asia, such as Pakistan.
`Eid Al-Adha, or “Feast of Sacrifice”, marks the end of the Hajj season and is one of the two most important Islamic celebrations, together with Eid Al-Fitr.
A financially-able Muslim sacrifices a single sheep or goat or shares with six others in sacrificing a camel or cow as an act of worship during the four-day `Eid Al-Adha celebrations.
The ritual commemorates Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail to Allah as an act of obedience and submission.
The Udhiyah meat is divided into three equal parts, one each for one’s own family, friends and the poor.
It is permissible that someone in another country could perform the sacrifice on one’s behalf.