NEW YORK – Bloomberg reports that sales of halal food, prepared according to Islamic law, are surging in the United States, and not just among the fast-growing U.S. Muslim population.
“At every level of the U.S. food chain, halal already occupies a small but rapidly expanding niche,” the news source writes, citing Nielsen estimates that sales of halal food in grocery and convenience stores and similar outlets reached $1.9 billion in the 12 months through August, a 15% increase from 2012.
And according to the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America, halal sales overall are projected to reach $20 billion this year, up by one-third since 2010. Among the grocers that have been ahead of the trend is Whole Foods Market, which ranks halal among its fastest growing categories, with double-digit sales growth in each of the last five years, writes Bloomberg.
Pew Research Center notes that there are about 3.3 million U.S. Muslims, which is projected to grow to 8.1 million by 2050. However, the surge in halal foods is not necessarily being driven by consumers who follow Islamic law. Adnan Durrani, chief executive officer of American Halal Co., told Bloomberg that as many as 80% of consumers who buy his Saffron Road brand are just food lovers who want better frozen meals.
The news source notes that some of the credit in consumer demand for halal foods goes to Halal Guys, which started as a street cart in New York City. The company is now planning to open 300 sit-down restaurants across the United States in the next three years.
“The Halal Guys have tapped into something that transcends demographics: taste,” writes Bloomberg, noting that during a recent Friday lunch hour, about 20 people, a mix of office workers and tourists, waited in line to order at the original Halal Guys food truck in New York.