Halal products in Germany: The future market that many fear
Millions of Muslims live in Germany. With them, the demand for Halal products, such as cosmetics, is growing. But the retailer dares to approach the topic so far barely.
The problem started for Loubna B. in the nail polish. As a devout Muslim she prays five times a day towards Mecca: at dawn, at noon, in the afternoon, at sunset and in the evening. According to Sura 5, verse 6 of the Qur’an, the ritual washing of the face, hands, arms and feet before it is a prerequisite for the validity of the prayer.
For the wash to be valid, the water must completely touch the parts of the body to be cleaned, including the fingernails. The use of commercially available, waterproof nail polish from the drugstore or the supermarket is therefore taboo for B. as a devout Muslim during prayer. „Even if it seems like a trifle, those are the things that keep you busy,“ she says.
Halal as a life concept, which is hardly noticed in the trade
„Halal is a holistic concept of life that reaches into almost every field of everyday life, and the central idea is to live in harmony with man, nature and God,“ says theologian and sociologist Cemil Sahinöz. The term is Arabic and is usually translated as „the permissible, permitted, permitted“. Often with „pure“ and „clean“ – depending on the context. The opposite of halal is haram („forbidden“).
In Islam, halal means all that is permitted and permitted under Islamic law (Sharia). There are several Halal standards worldwide. In addition to the Malaysian Jakim, for example, the Indonesian MUI or SMIIC, which goes back to the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC). That makes the market confusing.
Loubna B. learned about the fact that there are halal-compliant products in cosmetics, too, about three years ago. „Countries like Canada are pioneers here,“ she says. The native Moroccan buys her cosmetics online from a Frankfurt-based provider.
Not only her nail polish, but also make-up, blush and powder orders her now via the online shop. The products are halal certified with a British seal. The certificate aims to provide consumers with the assurance that no additives such as gelatine or collagen are present in cosmetics and that there has been no contamination during manufacture and storage with products considered non-halal. These include, for example, pork fats, which, however, are barely used today in cosmetics production because they quickly become rancid.
There are several companies throughout Germany offering Halal-certified cosmetics on the Internet. However, with different certificates that make different demands – only an apparent transparency. In the commercial supermarket or in the drugstore you are looking for halal-certified products mostly in vain.
„Irrespective of halal cosmetics, I would like to see significantly more Halal-compliant products in German retailing,“ says Loubna B. In other countries, such as France, there are already separate departments for this: „In supermarkets and drugstores This is the absolute exception in this country. “
The confirm inquiries at the drugstore giant DM and Rossmann. Both say that halal cosmetics are not an essential factor for them at the moment. L’Oréal, world market leader in the cosmetics sector, reacts similarly. The group has already had hundreds of its products halal certified. But the focus is not on the German market, but on Muslim-dominated countries.
Great potential of Halal cosmetics
If you look at the global sales figures for Halal beauty products, it becomes clear what a huge potential there is on the German market as well. A October 2018 study by UK market research firm Tech Navio predicts that Halal cosmetics‘ current market volume of € 25 billion – representing approximately six percent of the global beauty products business – could more than double by 2022 to € 55 billion. The average annual growth rate is 13.55 percent over the next three years, according to the Tech-Navio study.
But what about the numbers in Germany? Centrally collected data does not exist. But if you ask manufacturers like Fair Squared, you get an answer that is hardly surprising. The Cologne-based company offers its products on the net, but also in third-world shops, pharmacies and selected drugstores.
„We have been doubling our sales every year since the company was founded in 2015,“ says Fair Squared Managing Director Oliver Gothe, 49. For the past year, this figure stood at 1.5 million euros. Gothe believes that this rapid development continues: „The awareness of halal cosmetics in Germany is just beginning.“ The sociologist Sahinöz confirms this: „The awareness and interest in living in halal is clearly growing among the younger generation of Muslims in this country.“
Halal and Islam are highly emotional in Germany
This raises the question: Why has this hardly been reflected in the product ranges of the major retailers? The subject of Islam and thus also Halal is highly political in Germany, the social acceptance for Halal goods low. „There is no political will to promote Halal,“ says Kemal Calik, editor-in-chief and founder of the online magazine Halal World. To date, Çalk criticizes, there is no central office in Germany, which feels responsible for the concerns of Halal certifiers. Also lack of education.
The social media cooks when Toblerone halal-certifies his chocolate mounds or is served at the Islam conference black pudding. „I would simply like to see such debates and the discussion about Halal in our country taken for granted,“ says Çalk.
Highly emotional alone is arguing about the sheer number of Muslims in Germany. A study by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (Bamf) estimates 4.4 to 4.7 million Muslims in the country. The analysis in its data refers to December 31, 2015, is therefore over three years old. The AfD rail, the number of Muslims in Germany is still much higher. Other studies, on the other hand, assume half of Muslims. A directory that registers Muslims in Germany does not exist. The truth about how many people really are, who pray to Allah in Germany, is probably somewhere in the middle.
However, experts agree that their numbers are growing. „Muslims today are no longer just from Turkey, we now have Syrian and Afghan Muslims on a considerable scale, and today the Turkish halal industry is no longer enough to meet the diversity of this target group,“ says Sahinöz.
For Peter Bungenberg, this is where the drive of his work lies. Bungenberg is a lobbyist for food, trade and agricultural products and makes no secret of that. Together with his colleague Oguz Evler, he has been campaigning for a uniform Halal recommendation seal „Good Permitted“ in German trade for years – and thus he has big plans.
„In the German trade they come with halal to sympathetic rejection.I say that the Muslims are currently deliberately ignored,“ says Bungenberg. For him, it is difficult to understand why 1.3 million vegans in Germany have a universal seal of quality as a shopping aid, but not Muslims.
Bungenberg and Evler have been campaigning for a uniform Halal recommendation seal for about ten years, and have been on the market for two years now. After a long search, they have opted for the standard of the Malaysian government office Jakim, which is accepted worldwide. Prerequisite for the recommendation seal is that the product is recognized as a Halal product in at least one Muslim state.
Bungenberg and Evler are ready with their recommendation seal for the trade – if he wants. „We currently have about 400 products, for which we have the promise that they would carry our recommendation seal – if the trade plays along,“ says Bungenberg. This is where the problem lies: „There is a great fear that the negative image of Islam fueled by populists will shift to products.“
Of course, according to the lobbyist, the trade and companies that adorn the standard Halal recommendation seal are not per se against Islam. Nevertheless, says Bungenberg, „trade and business support right-wing populism with their behavior – even though they do not want it at all“.
Norbert Kahmann rates this field of tension differently. He is a founding member of the working group Halal & Kosher, which was founded in May 2011 by the Hanover Chamber of Commerce and Industry. For a major German manufacturer of fragrances and flavors, he works full-time in quality assurance. For Kahmann, many of the cosmetic products in the supermarket are already halal-compatible – without uniform certification and without having to change the recipe for it.
Halal products are also an increasingly important topic in the industry, he observes: his working group is growing, he now owns around 100 members. A key reason for this is the profound political reform of a country, some 11,000 kilometers away.
In Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, with more than 260 million inhabitants, all products must be Halal-marked from October of this year. This presents new challenges for German export.
A uniform certification – Kahmann has worked closely with politics in the past to develop a convergent European Halal standard – he assessed critically. The halal requirements in the different countries are too diversified, too different are the living worlds, in order to bring them to a viable common denominator for all states. Also in Germany, where the globally recognized certifier Halal Control enjoys a high level of acceptance. Kahmann sees a „great challenge in a certification that is uniform in this country, because the standards for Halal are simply defined differently.“
Nevertheless, Peter Bungenberg and Oguz Evler can not be dissuaded from the idea of creating a uniform Halal recommendation seal throughout Germany. On the contrary, they are already planning the next step: a Halal Competence Center to assist with certification issues; also an app that describes Halal products in detail in several languages.
„We have ideas, but we need support – from the Muslims and the trade,“ says Bungenberg. Getting both sides together will be difficult. He knows what he’s talking about.
In summary: More and more Muslims live in Germany. This also increases the demand for Halal products. The market, for example with halal cosmetics, is growing rapidly. A uniform certificate for Halal products is available to Muslims, unlike vegans or vegetarians, but not. The German trade is approaching the topic only reluctantly – for several reasons.
Florian Gontek, 17.2.2019, Spiegel Online, Teller Report