The industry is behind the times with commercialising Ramadan, according to BB Foodservice's Salih Sheikh, who added that as a result of the rising number of Muslims in the UK, this is an area operators need to consider.
BB Foodservice, is the delivered foodservice arm of Bestway Wholesale, and Sheikh went on: “Christmas is the biggest event in the foodservice calendar and worth hundreds of millions of pounds to operators every year.
“And it is far from alone. Easter, Pancake Day and Mother’s Day are all key for pubs, restaurants and hotels."
The Muslim faith in numbers:
Muslims make up 4.8% of the population of England and Wales. The Muslim population rose from 1.55m in 2001 to 2.71m in 2011.
The UK Muslim population is larger than all other non-Christian faith groups put together.
Almost half (47%) of Muslims resident in the UK are born here.
The majority of UK Muslims (76%) live in the inner city areas of Greater London, the West Midlands, the north-west and Yorkshire and Humberside.
Muslims form 12.4% of London’s population.
Information from British Muslims in Numbers report by the Muslim Council of Britain
He added: “But the industry is behind when it comes to commercialising Ramadan. It is the biggest untapped opportunity in foodservice.”
Muslims make up 4.8% of the population of England and Wales according to The Muslim Council of Britain and the organisation estimates that the demographic is worth £20.5bn to retailers every year, as reported in The Financial Times.
He added: “During Ramadan, people gather after sunset to feast together. And it is now very common to go out, rather than cook at home."
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and a time when Muslims across the world will fast during the hours of sunlight.
According to Muslim Aid, there are many reasons why this month carries more importance for Muslims than others, one of them being that it was the month in which the Holy Qur’an was revealed.
The Prophet Muhammed stated himself that all the gates of paradise open during Ramadan and they stay open throughout the month while all gates of hell remain closed.
During Ramadan, Muslims refrain from consuming food, drinking liquids, smoking and engaging in sexual relations.
Muslims are also instructed to refrain from sinful behaviour that may negate the reward of fasting such as false speech and fighting, except in self-defence.
To mark the end of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr, which means 'breaking of the fast'.
“Judging by the spikes we see in Halal products during Ramadan, it is not only Middle Eastern, Asian and North African restaurants that see extra demand," Sheikh said.
“The modern British Muslim – and what they like to eat – has changed over the years with 47% now UK-born (according to the British Muslims in Numbers report from the Muslim Council for Britain in 2015).
“As a result, Ramadan has quickly become a mainstream opportunity for operators.”