By virtue of being free from animal products, vegan goods share an important overlap with halal products: namely, the absence of pork – the consumption of which is strictly prohibited in halal diets. To be clear, vegan products are not equivalent to halal. However, aside from recipes that include alcohol, the vegan label can serve as a functional equivalent to halal. Accordingly, vegan products can complement halal diets by supplementing existing product portfolios in the halal market, offering avenues to explore new cuisines, and helping individuals to make conscious consumption choices that reflect their ethical and environmental values.
As Muslim populations across Western Europe grow, plant-based brands can identify and develop strategies to engage with these consumer groups
Multicultural and increasingly plant-based markets such as Germany could be an ideal place to launch and trial new marketing and products that aim to accommodate and appeal to those following halal diets. Euromonitor International’s Product Claims and Positioning system shows that So this is good news for vegans, vegetarians and flexitarians, but also Muslims and individuals who follow a halal diet.
Spotlight on Germany: Halal is rising, but still minor
Within this linguistic and biographic diversity, dietary norms are an important shared practice that influence Muslims' experiences in non-Muslim majority countries. In fact, according to a 2020 German Federal Government study on Muslims in Germany, diet was the most adhered to daily religious practice, more so than celebrating religious festivals or praying daily.
In recent years, halal goods have increased in variety in Germany.
Products with halal labels grew by a CAGR of 18% from 2019 to 2022
Source: Euromonitor International VIA data
However, in 2022, halal products still represented just 1.1% of packaged food SKUs. Vegan products took a much larger share, 13.9%.
The relatively small overall halal SKU count in Germany means that vegan products can contribute to supplementing halal products in all subcategories. Indeed, strongly performing halal categories, such as sauces, dressings and condiments, indicate that there is an existing demand for halal-certified versions of these products in online retail and these may be strategic subcategories for plant-based brands to focus their attention. On the other hand, plant-based brands may focus on gaps on the halal digital shelf where vegan products are particularly strong. Savoury snacks and sweet biscuits, snack bars and fruit snacks are among the strongest “vegan” subcategories, reflecting 19.9% and 21% of total SKUs for that subcategory, respectively, while the halal counterparts only showed 0.4% and 1%. Other subcategories, including baby food and ice cream and frozen desserts, have low SKU counts under both attributes, suggesting that there is limited demand for halal-certified versions of these products in online channels.
Values and limits of inclusivity
The proliferation of vegan goods in Germany and other Western European countries means that Muslims have increased options for food that do not infringe on religious and cultural norms.
Vegan products facilitate inclusivity, providing avenues for individuals to participate in broader consumption trends
This reflects the growing diversity of consumer groups that characterise an increasingly globalised and cosmopolitan world.
Rather than a parallel, competing attribute, vegan products are increasingly promoted by Muslim businesses and influencers in Germany alongside the halal label, recognising vegan as aligning with, though not replacing, halal. Moreover, beyond being an acceptable alternative to halal and an opportunity to try new products, many Muslims also hold the ethical and environmental values associated with veganism.
However, this also provides an opportunity to recognise how and where inclusivity falls short. Vegan products offer a valuable and increasingly convenient workaround for Muslim consumers to enjoy a broader range of cuisines; however, they side-step religious and cultural identity. Brands looking to tap into the Muslim consumer group must be cautious not to overstep this line.
In order to avoid any missteps, vegan brands and retailers should collaborate with members of Muslim communities to identify and better understand the role vegan products play in their consumption patterns while remaining true to their environmental, ethical and health commitments. In this case, achieving inclusivity means supplementing rather than substituting religious and cultural dietary norms.
For further discussion on this topic read our report, The Rise of Vegan and Vegetarian Food.