Alimentaria: Not always just halal kebab

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Javier Albarracín. (Photo: Kemal Calik)

Javier Albarracín, head of the Halal section of the Alimentaria food fair, wants more Thai halal meals, knows the best European country for halal products and is thinking about the future of the halal fairs.

Àgata Albero Miralbell and Javier Albarracín want to surprise visitors at Expo Halal Alimentaria 2020. Miralbell is responsible for the cooking shows at the fair. Top chefs will then cook traditional meals from South Africa and Thailand on stage in April – all halal, of course.

“We want to show that a halal meal doesn’t always have to be kebab,” the gastronomy expert told HALAL-WELT at the international Alimentaria press conference in Barcelona. Gastronomy could build bridges in a diverse society. Therefore, restaurants with Spanish, Thai or Italian cuisine, for example, could also offer meals that were prepared in accordance with the Muslim food regulations.

Javier Albarracín, head of the halal section of Alimentaria and head of Barcelona Halal Services, is not a Muslim, but he has been involved in global halal business for several years. “Social needs create business opportunities,” said Albarracín in the interview. The proportion of Muslims in the global population would continue to increase. The middle class is also growing in countries like Malaysia, Morocco, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. These people were travelling around the world. Because of these factors the global demand for halal products is increasing.

Millennials want healthier food

“The interest of non-Muslim countries like New Zealand, Brazil and Australia in the global halal market continues to grow,” said the halal expert. “And consumers are – more than ever – digital”. Millennials, born between 1980 and 2000, for example in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Istanbul, London and New York, would pay more attention to healthy, natural and sustainable food than the previous generation. So they would ask how the animals lived, what they ate, how they were treated.

La Boqueria famous market in Barcelona 225x300 - Alimentaria: Not always just halal kebab
La Boqueria. the famous market in Barcelona. (Foto: Kemal Calik)

Halal products, for example, are not always sustainable, but are primarily adapted to the needs of Muslim consumers. But, if more and more halal producers were to focus on global values such as sustainability, respect for animals and the environment, they could also sell their halal products to non-Muslim consumers, especially millennials.

The social acceptance of Muslims in Great Britain is higher than in other European countries, said Albarracín. Therefore, the UK has the best selection of Halal products and there are numerous Halal restaurants. Not only in London but also in cities like Birmingham and Manchester. In addition, there are many Muslim influencers and apps

Javier Albarracín: Spain exports halal meat and sweets

The main halal products that Spain produces for domestic and foreign markets are meat and meat products, sweets and pastries, Albarracín informed. National and international exhibitors would show their halal goods at the Expo Halal Alimentaria this year from April 20-23, and the global halal trends would be discussed at the congress. Influencers who talk about the digital offers for Muslims are also invited.

How does Javier Albarracín see the future of halal fairs? “The number of trade fairs has increased over the past few years,” he said. The expert is convinced that there is not enough space for so many halal fairs. The question is whether to organise a halal show only for Muslim consumers or whetherto or to organise the topic of Halal as a special show within the framework of larger fairs, such as Alimentaria. For Albarracín, the integration of halal fairs is the better way to win new consumers.