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Globalising kosher and halal markets
Authors: John Lever and Johan Fischer

Over the last two decades, global demand for kosher products has been growing steadily, and many non-religious consumers view kosher as a healthy food option: in the US over 60 per cent of kosher food consumption is linked to non-religious values associated with health and food quality. This book explores the emergence and expansion of global kosher and halal markets with a particular focus on the UK and Denmark. While Kosher is a Hebrew term meaning 'fit' or 'proper', halal is an Arabic word that literally means 'permissible' or 'lawful'. The book discusses the manufacture and production of kosher and halal meat (both red meat and poultry) with specific reference to audits/inspections, legislation, networking, product innovation and certification. It draws on contemporary empirical material to explore kosher and halal comparatively at different levels of the social scale, such as individual consumption, the marketplace, religious organisations and the state. It compares the major markets for kosher/halal in the UK with those in Denmark, where kosher/halal are important to smaller groups of religious consumers. Denmark plays an important role in biotechnology that is compatible with what we call kosher/halal transnational governmentality. The book explores how Jewish and Muslim consumers in the UK and Denmark understand and practice kosher consumption in their everyday lives. It also explores how 'compound practice' links eating with issues such as health and spirituality, for example, and with the influence of secularism and ritual.

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John Lever and Johan Fischer

108 4 Kosher consumers In this chapter we explore how Jewish consumers in the UK and Denmark understand and practice kosher consumption in their everyday lives. As we noted in Chapter 1, several studies deal with how diverse groups of Jews in the global diaspora negotiate kosher principles and practices. For example, dietary practices provide a common symbolic system through which the increasingly heterogeneous notions of Jewish identity in Denmark can be expressed, and one way to reinforce one’s Jewish identity is by keeping kosher (Buckser 1999). Similarly

in Religion, regulation, consumption
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Global kosher and halal markets
John Lever and Johan Fischer

biotech and dairy production in manufacturing companies. In Chapter  4, ‘Kosher consumers’, we explore how Jewish consumers in the UK and Denmark understand and practise kosher consumption in their everyday lives. A specific focus in this chapter is how consumers make sense of the issues raised in previous chapters, that is, buying/​eating meat and non-​meat products. With regard to halal, Chapter 5, 20 21 In t rod u c t i on ‘Halal consumers’, addresses the same issues as Chapter 4. Both chapters are organised so that in each we start out by discussing consumers who

in Religion, regulation, consumption
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John Lever and Johan Fischer

production and kosher certification and logos are extremely important in the everyday lives of many Jewish groups in Europe. However, many Jewish consumers in Denmark are not so fastidious about kosher and together with local Jewish organisations they feel that the Big Five kosher certifiers have become global, commercial and powerful to such an extent that their certification of thousands of companies and products has taken on a life of its own that is detached from the everyday lives of Jewish consumers. Comparatively, our UK Jewish consumers seem to be more observant

in Religion, regulation, consumption
John Lever and Johan Fischer

specifically, Jair’s role is to create a national Danish opinion or ruling on the kosherness of products consumed by Jews in Denmark amidst other opinions from ‘big’ rabbis and other discourses found on the Internet. Being a relatively small country with a limited number of Jews actually necessitates thorough and systematic rabbinical supervision because kosher products are hard to come by: this means that many Jewish consumers will buy their products in ordinary shops or over the Internet and this warrants 39 40 Re l igi on , r e g ul at i on , c onsumpt ion rabbinical

in Religion, regulation, consumption
Abstract only
John Lever and Johan Fischer

market is more limited and non-​ stunned slaughter is banned. Comparable to what we saw among the Jewish consumers, Muslim consumers often ritualise not only the buying and consumption of food, but also more contextual practices and items such as utensils. For a number of reasons Muslim ritualisation of halal is not as elaborate as that of Orthodox Jews, yet there is little doubt that the development of the halal market to a large extent emulates what has happened to the kosher market. We speculate that the two markets will be increasingly comparable. 168

in Religion, regulation, consumption