TORONTO – The largest halal food festival in North America will be held this weekend at the International Center in the Greater Toronto Area.
“We’re extremely excited to be bringing Halal Food Fest back for a fourth year,” Salima Jivraj, Founder, Halal Food Fest, told AboutIslam.net correspondent.
“With new halal labeling regulations coming into effect this year, a lot of attention has been given to the halal industry in Canada.”
“We’re proud to have a platform that can help reflect the needs of Muslim consumers,” added Jivraj.
The event, now in its fourth year, attracted over 35,000 visitors in 2015 and even more are expected this year from across the US and Canada.
Halal is an Arabic word meaning “permissible,” and for food to be deemed halal it must meet certain conditions.
Canada’s halal food market is currently estimated to be a $1 billion industry, and the demand for halal options has increased along with Canada’s Muslim population, which grew 82 per cent over the last decade, and is expected to triple by 2031.
The event brings over one hundred food exhibitors, in-house chefs, and guest chefs, including finalist from Master Chef US Amanda Saab, together for two days of sampling and programming focused on halal food.
Exhibitors include Mortimer’s Halal Kitchen, Naked Dates and Pasha Turkish Cuisine.
Some notable and diverse offerings from vendors include original fusion creations such as Nihari Sliders, Paratha Crepes, and Tandoori Lasagna.
In addition to food, there will also be stage shows, workshops, and seminars on the booming halal food industry.
Main stage events include a cake decorating competition, a sushi workshop and live performances.
An outdoor area will feature more food vendors plus live cooking demonstrations.
In addition to the many food features, there’s also a shopping area, and a 7,000 square foot indoor playground for kids, since a third of last year’s attendees were under 16 years.
The Greater Toronto Area is home to 47 per cent of Canada’s Muslim community, which makes it a natural fit to host the upcoming Halal Food Fest.
The vibrant Muslim community in the area is the host to two other large annual gatherings of North American Muslims, the Reviving the Islamic Spirit (RIS) Convention in December and the summer festival, MuslimFest.
A survey showed that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are proud to be Canadian, and that they are more educated than the general population.
Muslims represent 3.2 percent of Canada’s total population.
A report from the Washington-based Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life said that Muslims are expected to make up 6.6% of Canada’s total population in 2030.