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French halal market successful and growing in spite of political “unease”

This is taken from Expatica. Excerpts:

The increasing popularity of halal products is largely due to young descendants of Arab and African migrants, who want to enjoy the same culinary diversity as their non-Muslim French neighbours.Halal foie gras, non-alcoholic champagne, sauerkaut garnished with pork-free sausages: Muslim-friendly food is moving away from its immigrant roots and merging with mainstream French tradition.

While the fine wine and gourmet food exports that underpin the French food industry have been hit hard by the global crisis, the halal niche market has been growing fast.The boom went largely unnoticed until a hamburger chain tried a halal menu in some of its restaurants, sparking charges of communautarisme — a term roughly meaning “ghettoisation”, which grates against the French insistence on integration.

The growth of halal products is largely thanks to young descendants of Arab and African migrants, who want to enjoy the same culinary diversity as their non-Muslim French neighbours while remaining true to their cultural roots.

“It’s mostly driven by the second and third generations,” said Antoine Bonnel, director of the Paris Halal trade show held in early April.
“It’s not a case of the Muslim community withdrawing into itself, but rather one of integration, since they want to be able to buy halal sauerkraut or spring rolls,” he said.

Bonnel was referring to the increasing number of Muslims joining the French middle classes and expanding their culinary horizons, a trend that has even spawned a new term — beurgeois, a slightly ironic mix of bourgeois, or middle class, and beur, slang for North African.French sales of halal food are forecast to hit EUR 5.5 billion in 2010 and move “from the ethnic market to the mass market”, said Bonnel.

The word halal (lawful in Arabic) applies to food that has been prepared according to the prescriptions of the Koran.Islamic law requires meat to be slaughtered under religious supervision and forbids the consumption of pork and alcohol.The halal market, targeting France’s estimated five-million-strong Muslim population, has obvious attractions for retailers and restaurateurs, and market researchers say it is growing rapidly….

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