As Muslims around the world celebrate Eid in the coming days, Alex Black spoke to AHDB halal manager Awal Fuseini about how sheep farmers could benefit from the halal market.
Education for farmers and the public is key to unlocking the full potential of the halal market, according to AHDB halal manager Awal Fuseini.
Mr Fuseini was appointed as AHDB’s first halal manager in April as the levy board looks to improve its understanding of the opportunities in halal meat in the UK and potential export markets.
While some people have been concerned about the standards of halal slaughter in the UK, Mr Fuseini said there was a misunderstanding of what halal actually meant.
Muslims make up less than 5 per cent of the population
But they consume about 20 per cent of British lamb
He said: “It is highly regulated and a legal process. There is a negative public perception of halal we cannot hide from. I think there is a lack of understanding. People think all halal is not stunned.”
But most halal meat is stunned, with only 15 per cent of halal and kosher meat slaughtered non-stun.
His role at AHDB involves liaising with halal slaughterhouses and certification boards and offering AHDB support and training.
“The best thing we can do is to look at how we train slaughtermen. Education is important,” he said.
“I am planning to start from the abattoir level, training people on the importance of animal welfare and then highlighting this education to the wider public.”
He said it was an area which had potential for levy payers as traditional beef and lamb markets came under pressure.
“It is important because it accounts for a large proportion of the meat consumed in the UK,” he said.
“The Muslim population is expanding at a rapid rate. Culturally, they are known for eating lots of meat.”
The opportunities are particularly large for the sheep industry as it faces the challenge of declining lamb consumption among the general British public.
“Lamb is a main part of the Muslim diet. From interacting with the community, I do not think this is going to go down,” he said.
Mr Fuseini has a wealth of experience in the halal sector and was previously the certification manager of Halal Food Authority. He holds a BSc in agriculture from Cape Coast University, Ghana, and an MSc in meat science and technology from Bristol University.
He is currently studying a PhD at the University of Bristol, funded by the Humane Slaughter Association, looking at the development of a new system of electrical stunning of cattle.
“It is a new system of stunning which we hope can be acceptable to those in the non-stun market,” he said.