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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

shop in the entire country and where the purchase of kosher products on the Internet or bringing food back from abroad has greater significance. Among our mostly middle-​class informants we explore to what extent they are focused on kosher as specific forms of standardised ‘qualities’ in their everyday lives (Callon et al. 2002). We also explore how ‘compound practice’ (Warde 2016) links eating with issues such as health and spirituality, for example, and with the influence of secularism and ritual. It soon becomes clear that all our consumers are acutely aware that

in Religion, regulation, consumption
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John Lever and Johan Fischer

of certification, supervision and inspection (Blech 2008). After companies’ kosher applications have been approved, an initial inspection 78 79 Be yon d  m e at focuses on the verification of the accuracy of the application and ingredient lists submitted and the production system, including the need to undertake a ritual cleansing (kosherisation) of equipment if necessary. Steam or hot water can be of concern if a common system is used in the processing of kosher and non-​kosher products (Blech 2008: 13). Many of the above issues are particularly relevant in the

in Religion, regulation, consumption
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John Lever and Johan Fischer

-​contamination, purification and ritual in everyday life. Thus, in terms of differences we can say that observant Jews in many ways are more fastidious about their religious consumption: they separate milk and meat; have kitchens with different sections for milk and meat; and have different sets of utensils for eating milk and meat dishes. That means that many observant Jews put a lot of effort into maintaining this ritual separation –​even in small Copenhagen kitchens. In Denmark more generally the limited availability of kosher products makes these issues more significant in terms of

in Religion, regulation, consumption
John Lever and Johan Fischer

polarities exist: liberalism/​conservatism; religiosity/​cultural Judaism; and an ideal of Danish integration/​ideal of Jewish distinctiveness (Buckser 2003: 51). Our empirical exploration of kosher focuses on the two most important organisations involved in kosher in contemporary Denmark, the Jewish Community and Chabad. Because the Jewish community is rather small in Denmark, a handful of people have played important roles in Jewish organisations. In the Jewish Community, Bent Lexner was the chief rabbi from 1996 to 2014. Kosher products at Copenhagen Kosher carried Bent

in Religion, regulation, consumption
John Lever and Johan Fischer

certification and the origins of kosher meat. While there was a recognition that the number of kosher butchers may be declining, this was seen to be as much a consequence of the new demands placed on butchers as it is about the increase of kosher products in supermarkets. While kosher consumers have always been demanding, our informant argued that kosher butchers now have to provide more specialist services if they are to survive: he also explained that he has customers who consume kosher for health reasons and Muslims who consume kosher because it is similar to halal. As

in Religion, regulation, consumption
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John Lever and Johan Fischer

-​friendly holidays are considered unnecessary and over-​commercialised. Conversely, it makes sense that non-​meat products such as toothpaste and other care products can be halal: ‘If halal toothpaste was available in Denmark it would make me wonder if the non-​halal toothpaste next to it is problematic’, he points out. Atilla finds halal and kosher to be comparable as both Muslims and Jews are People of Book within Islam and Judaism. Consequently, he would readily consume kosher products if available in his everyday life in Denmark. Nora is a student of Egyptian background and

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

consolidated in many places within the Jewish diaspora, as new generations of migrants have sought to maintain traditional practices in new locations (Lytton 2013). While the 1 2 Re l igi on , r e g ul at ion , c onsumpti on Figure 1  Danish kosher butter in Manchester Jewish population is diminishing as a proportion of the global population, it is also increasing worldwide and it currently stands at around 14 million (JPPI 2015; Kooy 2015). The global demand for kosher products has been growing steadily, and many non-​religious consumers now view kosher as a healthy food

in Religion, regulation, consumption