Demand grows for halal food as industry evolves

AP | Mar 13, 2014 | JORDAN TIMES

A visitor talking with a representative of a halal food producer from Saudi Arabia during a recent halal food exhibition in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (AP file photo)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The global industry for halal food and lifestyle products — ones that meet Islamic law standards of manufacture — is estimated to be worth hundreds of billions of dollars and is multiplying as Muslim populations grow. Producers outside the Muslim world, from Brazil to the US and Australia, are eager to tap into the market.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is positioning itself to be their gateway, part of its push to become a global centre of Islamic business and finance.

UAE officials announced last month that the city of Dubai has dedicated around 6.7 million square feet of land in Dubai Industrial City for a “Halal Cluster” for manufacturing and logistic companies that deal in halal food, cosmetics and personal care items.

Dubai Industrial City Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Belhoul said the idea to create a zone just for halal manufacturers was driven by the increased demand locally and internationally for such products.

“This industry itself, we know it is growing,” Belhoul told The Associated Press. He said the industry is expected to double in terms of value within five years. “So we think there is a lot of opportunity… and we need to capitalise on this.”

The world’s Muslim population is estimated at around 1.6 billiion, and the majority is believed to adhere to or prefer to adhere to halal products when possible. The general understanding is that halal products should not be contaminated with pork or alcohol and that livestock is slaughtered in accordance with Islamic Shariah law.

Similar to kosher practices, Islam requires the animal is killed with single slash to the throat while alive. It is intended as a way for animals to die swiftly and minimise their pain.

However, as with most issues in religion, opinions vary greatly over what is permissible and what is not. Despite attempts by international Islamic bodies, such as the World Halal Food Council, to achieve worldwide guidelines, there are no global standards for halal certifications.

Stricter interpreters of Shariah say chicken must be slaughtered by hand to be considered halal. Others say it is acceptable if the chicken is slaughtered by machine, as is the case in much of the fast-paced food industry around the world. To accommodate various Muslim consumers, several companies even specify on their packaging how the chicken was slaughtered.

Belhoul said that if halal products are manufactured in the UAE, they will need to be certified halal by the government body that oversees this. But, as with most countries, if the halal products, such as livestock or raw material, are being imported from abroad for processing in the UAE, then the stamp of approval comes from Islamic organisations in the exporting country.

This is where organisations such as Halal Control in Germany have an important role to play, said General Manager Mahmoud Tatari.

He added that when the company started 14 years ago in Europe, there was little awareness or demand for halal products. Today, Halal Control has 12 Islamic scholars who offer guidance on certifications to international companies such as Nestle and Unilever who want to do business in the Muslim world.

Halal Control, which concentrates on products made in Europe, does not certify meat and poultry, but almost everything else from dairy products to food ingredients. Tatari said Muslims around the world may think they are eating halal-certified food, but that often raw materials may include alcohol or pork gelatin in candies and soups, or may have been cross-contaminated during production.

“It is a process and this will take maybe now 5 — 10 years [until] we can more safely eat halal,” he indicated.

Malaysia is the global leader in developing the halal industry and putting forth the highest standards, according to Tatari and others in the industry.

Malaysia exported $9.8 billion worth of halal products in 2013, the Oxford Business Group (OBG) indicated. That makes it one of the largest suppliers in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, an international group with 57 members.

US manufacturers, such as Kelloggs and Hershey, plan to build halal-compliant plants in Malaysia.

The OBG says Indonesia, with the world’s largest Muslim population, plans to establish a centre for the halal industry in 2015. In Thailand, more than a quarter of food factories are already making halal products.

But it is in the Gulf, where countries almost entirely rely on food imports, where the halal industry seems to have the biggest potential for growth in the coming years.

Brazil is the world’s second top exporter of meat and poultry to Muslim-majority countries after the US.

The Brasil Food Company (BRF), which is among the world’s largest food companies, plans to open its first manufacturing site in the Middle East in UAE’s capital, Abu Dhabi, in June. The factory will process poultry from Brazil for repackaging and shipping to other countries.

“Having the factory will allow us to be closer to the market and will allow us go to different markets that today we cannot export to from Brazil,” BRF Quality Assurance Supervisor Tiago Brilhante said. The company already exports 70,000 tonnes of chicken to the Middle East each month, making the region its biggest export market.

Datamonitor, a company that provides market and data analysis, says halal food already accounts for about a fifth of world food trade, and the Muslim market is growing substantially.

According to a Global Futures and Foresights Study, 70 per cent of the world’s population increase from 7 billion today to 9 billion people by 2050 will be born in Muslim countries.

Already in Muslim-majority countries, outlets like McDonald’s, Subway and Papa John’s pizza serve halal to their customers.

In the US, the family-run Midamar Corporation, based out of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has been tapping into the halal market since 1974. Midamar exports American beef and chicken to around 35 countries.

Jalel Aossey said the company’s halal certification comes from an organisation his father started called the Islamic Services of America, which he says was the first of its kind in the US.

Today there are around 30 halal certification bodies in the US and several mainstream supermarkets that carry halal food items.

Even in markets where Muslims are not the majority, there are billions of dollars to be made in the halal industry. The Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America, a not-for-profit halal certification organisation, said the domestic US halal market is estimated at $20 billion.

Mark Napier, director of the Gulfood trade show that brings together more than 4,500 food and beverage vendors from around the world to the Dubai World Trade Centre annually, said producers of halal products want to serve markets where their supply is not keeping up with demand.

Many Muslims in the West buy Jewish kosher products when their halal counterparts are not available.

“Food business is big business,” Napier said. “Producers are increasingly aware of the need for halal standards and certification and bringing that to the fore of their export promotions.”

SOURCE:  JORDAN TIMES

1 reply

  1. The rising acceptance of halal meat due to its scientific and hygienic slaughtering and processing methods is spicing up the US 600 billion global halal meat market impressively.

    Studies have shown that halal slaughter protects consumers from many diseases which are not possible in the conventional methods used in many countries.

    Ahead of a key halal conclave in Sharjah, experts opine that halal slaughter of animals has a great role in preventing infectious diseases, and is seen one of the main reasons for the popularity of the product even among non-Muslims.

    “The way the slaughtering process is carried out is of significant importance for both human health and safety and quality of the meat. Halal slaughter involves cutting of jugular veins, throat and oesophagus, which facilitates draining of blood from the animal and thus prevents growth and multiplication of harmful micro-organisms,” said Dr. Ibrahim Hussein Ahmed Abd El Rahim, Professor of Infectious Diseases, Umm Al-Qura University, Makkah Al-Mukarama, Saudi Arabia.

    “Prevention of neck separation is very important to complete the bleeding process to remove all the blood from carcass. Blood is a typical media for proliferation of different kinds of microbes, therefore its complete removal from the slaughtered animal is vital to protect consumers from infectious diseases,” he said.

    Dr. Ibrahim Hussein Ahmed Abd El Rahim will be attending the upcoming Halal Congress Middle East that will be held at Expo Centre Sharjah from December 16 to 18, 2013. It will be organized alongside the 2nd OIC Halal Middle East Exhibition which is held under the patronage of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah.

    Globally, the halal market that spans from food to finance and tourism is worth US 3 trillion. According to latest estimates, halal products have two billion consumers worldwide that grows more than 20 per cent annually.

    Realizing the importance of the subject, a panel discussion will be dedicated to the science behind halal during the three-day congress. To be chaired by Shawky Ibrahim Abdel-Karim Allam, Sheikh Al-Azhar, Grand Mufti of Egypt, the discussion will take up issues of stunning, mechanical slaughtering, tasmiah and animal feed, among others.

    Panellists for the discussion include Mufti Taqi Usmani from Pakistan; Mufti Mustafa Ceric from Bosnia; Mufti Sheikh Ravil Gainutdin, from Russia, Mr Nabil A Molla, Secretary General of GCC Standardization Organization and Dr. Abdulqahir Mohammad Qamar of International Islamic Fiqah Academy, Saudi Arabia.

    It will also feature representatives from the Standards and Metrology Institute for the Islamic Countries; Emirates Standards & Metrology Authority-UAE; National Accreditation Council-Pakistan; JAKIM – Halal Certification Authority-Malaysia; MUI – Majlis Ulema-Indonesia; and Halal Science Centre-Thailand.

    Besides, reflecting the surging trade between the region and Australia, Meat and Livestock Australia, has signed up as Platinum Sponsor to talk about the Goodness of Australian Meat.

    The association of Meat and Livestock Australia with the congress comes at a time when Australia’s red meat exports to the Middle East in May this year totalled 16,492 tonnes, a 46 per cent increase year-on-year and 7 per cent above the previous record set in April 2013, according to Meat and Livestock Australia figures.

    Other topics to be taken up for discussion at the congress include tapping the growing halal trade; halal cosmetics, pharmaceuticals & tourism; benefits of halal certification; Islamic banking & takawful; technology for halal food traceability and harmonization of halal standards.
    IA
    London School of Islamics Trust
    http://www.londonschoolofislamis.org.uk

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