Halal Haute Cuisine Growing in France

Traditional French dishes are becoming increasing available in halal versions in Paris. hat he could never taste because they were forbidden by Muslim precepts. The website paris-hallal.com, dedicated to promoting halal restaurants, lists 250 sit-down places serving only halal meat and no alcohol. As well as traditional Middle Eastern and North African cuisine, they include 26 French restaurants and dozens that serve Thai, Chinese, Italian and other international cuisines.

The rapid growth in halal restaurants in the Paris region is part of a trend that has swept France in the last few years, says Abbas Bendali, president of the market research firm Solis, which studies developments among minority populations. The typical customers are the grandchildren of Muslim immigrants who arrived in France in the 1950s to help rebuild the country after the Second World War. They tend to be cultural rather than religious Muslims and have embraced halal food as their “sign of identity.”

The market for halal products started to grow in the late 1990s, and has “exploded” in the last three years, Mr. Bendali said. His most recent study shows it is increasing by 20 per cent a year and will be worth an estimated €5.5-billion ($7.5 billion) this year.

Halal Foods Advertized on Major French Television Networks

For the first time, halal food is being advertised on France’s most-watched private television channels, attesting to the growing purchase power of Muslim shoppers in the country. “Even though people have to fast during the day, Muslims tend to eat more — and better — when they can eat during Ramadan, which is why it is traditionally a period of peak consumer activity,” said Abbas Bendali, director of Solis Conseil, an ethnic marketing consultancy in Paris.

The Panzani-owned, Lyon-based food brand Zakia Halal is running a $430,000 mass-market promotion of halal food. It features a young Muslim couple shopping at a supermarket to promote halal microwaveable meals including lasagna, ravioli, paella, beef, bourguignon and shepherd’s pie.

Bendali added that “It appears the rest of France is starting to regard things like halal food as part of the new mix.”