The Catalan government body Prodeca promotes food from the region worldwide and pays more attention to the halal segment.
Catalonia is one of Europe’s leading food and drink producers, with exports of 12.87 billion euros ($14.34 billion) in 2021. The regional government of Catalonia places this part of l Spain as the second largest European food ecosystem including production, processing, marketing and ancillary industries.
In the halal segment, Catalonia stands out as the first Spanish region to offer halal-certified food and beverages.
“As Catalan companies are export-oriented, they needed Halal certification to enter the markets of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, and they developed it a few years ago. That’s why today we are the first region in Spain for halal food and drink. Most Halal production is destined for overseas markets, which is why certification is important, and which is why businesses accredited by the GCC, Turkey and Asian markets have flourished in Spain over the of the last 10 years,” said Susanna Barquin Castany, Business Solutions Manager, Meat and Halal Sector at Prodeca, part of the Government of Catalonia to promote Catalan agri-food products.
The European Union accounts for the lion’s share of exports, at 53.6% or 6.9 billion euros ($7.6 billion), up 11.4% last year from 2020. Exports to the Middle East represent 4.12% of total exports, at 530.2 million euros (590 million dollars) up 18.9% in 2021 compared to the previous year. Africa represents 6.1%, at 785.07 million euros ($875.19 million), growing 28.8% in 2021, and Asia represents 20.76% of exports, at 2 .67 billion euros ($2.97 billion), up 7.33% over last year.
To the Middle East, cereals and milling products are the main exports, with 163 million euros (181.7 million dollars), followed by extracts, essences and concentrates, ingredients and preparations for soups with 57.51 million euros ($64.09 million). Sweets, chocolates, confectionery, honey, coffee and teas account for 42.61 million euros ($47.49 million), while meat and charcuterie account for 65.51 million euros ( $73 million). Excluding meat and beverages, olive oil is Catalonia’s biggest export to Asia, with 59.6 million euros ($66.42 million). To Africa, extracts, essences and concentrates are the main exports, with 102.09 million euros (113.7 million dollars), followed by sweets, chocolate and confectionery with 42.25 million. euros ($47 million).
The main global export is meat, including the region’s famous cured meats and charcuterie.
In 2021, the value of food and beverage exports from Catalonia increased by 12.34% and 10.12% in volume compared to 2020. In delicatessen and related products, the increase is 18% in value and 14% in volume in 2021.
While Catalan pork meats are popular around the world, these products are not exported to Muslim-majority countries. The sector has adapted by creating halal versions, such as halal bacon and chorizo (a dried and cured sausage) made from beef or turkey. “In addition to our very fine charcuterie, we have chocolate covered almondsand saffron honey,” Barquin said.
Catalan exporters are increasingly going beyond exporting to the closer markets of North Africa and the Middle East. “We think of Indonesia and Malaysia, because they have growing purchasing power and are Muslim, and we have to work on that,” Barquin said.
Prodeca supports the development of halal food as it does other segments like vegan and organic food.
“Halal is a new sector and we need to normalize this type of consumption. You can produce organic, vegan and gluten-free specialty chocolate, and halal is one of them. In our view, the Halal consumer is no different from other consumer segments: they are looking for quality products at an adequate price, yes, but above all they want trust and service,” said Barquin.
PRODECA supports the III International Halal Congress of Alimentaria in Barcelona from April 4 to 6. “We are sure that halal food is a very powerful sector in terms of consumption, and Barcelona can be a good hub for the sector. We are Mediterranean, we are flexible and we can understand different cultures. And we are geographically well located,” she said.
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