BBC Radio 4 this week broadcast a documentary looking at the growth in the market for halal products globally. Whilst ‘halal’ has traditionally been narrowly understood in relation to meat products, the concept of halal has extended to cover more than just the way Muslims slaughter animals.
The halal market, as presenter Navid Akhtar explains, has expanded far beyond food and drink to cosmetics, household items, clothing, factory production, finance and even holidays. In ‘The Future is Halal’, Akhtar visits Malaysia, a pioneer in the halal market, and speaks to experts and entrepreneurs involved in the industry.
Akhtar also explores how the need for halal products is inspiring a new generation of Muslim entrepreneurs who are often driven into the market by gaps which they themselves discover for ‘halal’ products. He also ponders whether the halal consumer market in itself is particularly beneficial to Muslims. As one expert explains, consumerism can be something which is anti-Islamic; Muslim ethical concerns may not be at the heart of innovation in the way that profit motives are, thus removing some consumer products of their spiritual value.
Akhtar looks at the risks involved in ‘halal branding’ and reasons why not all brands are jumping onto the halal bandwagon with some non-Muslim customers being driven away, particularly given the negative press which halal has received in recent times.
The documentary is an interesting exploration on the broadening of the concept of halal, the impact of Muslim consumer power on traditional marketing methods and the ways in which business is responding to the needs of a rising, affluent, globe-trotting Muslim middle class.
The Future is Halal is available to listen to online on BBC iPlayer for another four days, see the link here.
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