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World's largest halal food festival held in London
Wednesday October 2, 2013 7:57 PM, IINA

The world's largest halal food festival was held in London recently, reflecting the fast growing halal market in Britain. The three day event, which concluded at the Excel Centre in east London on Sept. 29, offered a chance to explore the diversity of the halal food market and its potential.

Fans of halal food and drink - haloodies – have come from as far away as Australia to see what the growing, multi-billion dollar industry has to offer. Haloodies are people who come from any background, profession, race or religion and simply enjoy consuming halal food and drink.

There were live cookery demonstrations, celebrity chefs, cooking classes as well as restaurant and street food exhibitors. The facts and figures for the halal food market supported the concept of a festival, which was the idea of a couple from London.

The need for halal goods in the UK has prompted many supermarkets and chain restaurants to recognize the importance of Muslim communities and their dietary needs.

Rosie Boycott, food advisor and chairman of the London food Board, said the Halal market is a hugely important part of our food economy.

"In London, the food market is worth about £17 billion ($28 billion), we employ about 300,000 people, we consume 25,000,000 million meals a day, the Muslim community makes up over a million of our London population of 8.5 million and that is growing."

Halal meat accounts for about 15% of the meat that comes in the market as well" said Rosie Boycott said.

Over 100 exhibitors from across the globe showcased different types of halal food and drinks at the event.

The event director Noman Khawaja explained the concept by saying: "Muslims go to food festivals and they cannot eat some of the beautiful food that's there, we have just replicated that model and we brought it to halal food."

One gastronomic invention that may also be of interest to those who can eat non-halal food is a chocolatier's claim that he has created the lowest calorie truffle in the world.

Exhibiting at the halal food show, he claims that his chocolates are between 43 and 48 calories each, nearly 50 percent lower in calories than other available versions but with the same ingredients of cocoa and sugar.

Other culinary treats were available for a try-out, such as a range of cocktails, including a lemon and chilli drink.The multi Michelin star-winning chef Jean Christophe Novelli showed off some of his cooking at the festival.

According to the latest census, there are 2.7 million Muslims in the UK with a spending power of over £20 billion. This population is rising. London Mayor Boris Johnson, whose great-grandfather was Muslim, is supporting the festival.

"The halal food industry is worth millions to our economy, and it is entirely right that this event should be taking place in London, home to so many Muslim communities from all over the world," he said.

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