Page last updated at 15:12 GMT, Monday, 23 February 2009

Farmers aim for halal meat market

Halal meat
The halal meat market is worth £2.8bn in the UK alone

West Midlands farmers hope to tap into the £2.8bn UK halal meat market with a scheme that will check animals are killed in accordance with Islamic law.

The project, which follows a two year trial, will ensure livestock are killed with a single cut to the throat in a halal abattoir.

About two thirds of halal meat in the UK is currently imported.

Farmers also hope to gain a share of the global halal market which is worth an estimated £75bn.

Animals monitored

The scheme, which will begin in March, follows the trial arranged by the regional development agency Advantage West Midlands and the West Midlands Minority Ethnic Business Forum.

Sheep
Sheep farmed in the Midlands could be sold as halal meat around the world

The Qurbani Project sourced halal meat from about 200 animals on farms in the region and was tested during the Muslim festival Eid-ul-Adha in December 2008.

The animals were slaughtered in a halal abattoir and then distributed to poor people in Bosnia.

The idea is similar to the National Farmers' Union's (NFU) Red Tractor scheme, which ensures the welfare of slaughtered animals, Midlands Today science and environment correspondent David Gregory said.

Farmers signed up to it cannot use pig manure, GM feeds or alcohol-based cleaners.

The NFU said it had been concerned about the welfare of animals but was reassured they would be stunned first.

A machine is used to monitor the animal to make sure it is unconscious but not dead when its throat is cut.

'New markets'

There are about two million Muslims in the UK but an estimated six million consumers of halal meat nationwide.

Michael Oakes, board member for rural affairs at Advantage West Midlands, said British Muslims consumed 20% of all red meat sold in the country while making up just 3% of the population.

Adam Quinney, chairman of the West Midlands NFU, said: "Beef and sheep producers in the Midlands welcome the opportunity to take advantage of the new markets now being opened up as a result of the Qurbani project.

"Being able to produce animals for halal meat with confidence that high welfare standards will operate throughout the supply chain, will be welcomed by livestock farmers."

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The farmers' biggest concern was the welfare of the animals when they were sent for slaughter



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