Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Regulating the sacred: why the US Halal Food Industry needs better oversight

For many Muslims, adherence to Islamic dietary laws, known as halal, is an intrinsic part of their everyday lives. Even those who are relatively lax with other rituals of the faith tend to adhere to halal. But a spate of scandals involving halal meat – first in Europe and now in the US – threatens the reliability of the industry and highlights the need for improved oversight.
There are 1.6 billion Muslims around the world who collectively support a market for halal foods that is currently valued at more than US$1 trillion. The demand for halal products from countries like the US is certain to grow because a large number of Muslim-majority countries do not have enough agriculture and livestock resources to feed their booming populations. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the other Gulf Cooperation Council countries, for example, are expected to import US$53 billion of halal food by 2020.
The superior quality of its products has made the US a leader in the global market for food prepared by Islamic standards. But increasingly it is facing stiff competition from both established and emerging players like Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Brazil and Uruguay. In order to maintain its competitive edge, the US needs to bolster its halal-assurance mechanisms. This is necessary not only for the export market but also to instill confidence among the millions of domestic halal consumers in America.

The Midamar controversy

Last month, Bill Aossey Jr, founder of Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based Midamar Corp, was indicted on 19 felony counts for allegedly shipping mis-branded meat to Indonesia and Malaysia from 2007 to 2010. He is accused of making false statements on export certificates and committing wire and money fraud. Indonesia and Malaysia have strict halal import regulations that require that the meat be processed only at their approved slaughterhouses. Aossey Jr has been accused of shipping beef from a Minnesota plant that had no such approval from the two importing countries.
Midamar insists that it was a minor labeling issue and that the meat it shipped was halal. Its lawyer criticized the government for initially accusing the company of not being compliant with halal rules but later retracting that allegation. He also accused the government of ‘improperly trying to define halal standards’. Defining what is halal or not should be left to the Muslim faithful without governmental interference, he appears to be saying.
The controversy surrounding Midamar is emblematic of the issues plaguing the industry. Unlike the Kosher food sector, there is no widely accepted golden halal standard in the US or even internationally. Despite some initiatives taken by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a universal standard has yet to emerge. While all Muslims agree on the fundamentals of Islamic dietary laws, as mentioned in the Quran, there are significant disagreements when it comes to the details.
Unlike kosher, there is no universally recognized standard for proper halal food preparation. But there are a few minimal consumer expectations. Reuters
Click to enlarge

Mechanical versus manual slaughter

Some of the contentious issues include: the permissibility of stunning an animal, mechanical versus manual slaughter, vertical versus horizontal cut, permissibility of minute quantities of alcohol as processing agents, and the list goes on. Adding a further dimension of complexity is the growing awareness among Muslims that the food they consume should not only be halal but also ethical. Proponents of this movement highlight issues such as the humane treatment of animals and the use of genetically modified organisms.
As a result of this lack of consensus, the definition of halal can be as expansive or as restrictive as one wants it to be. This obviously poses a problem for food manufacturers frustrated by the diversity of opinion and unable to adhere to a set standard. But despite the disagreements, the average Muslim consumer has come to expect some basic standards. At a minimum, halal signifies that the permissible animal or bird has been slaughtered by a Muslim; that it is alive at the time of the slaughter; that a ritual blessing is invoked; and that the blood is completely drained out.
But this diversity of definitions creates a large loophole for fraud. Businesses and individuals have charged premium fees for generic meats they incorrectly labeled halal. Several private halal certifiers do provide some oversight of the industry but that has proven to be inadequate. The fact that there are no regulations governing the certifiers means that anyone can claim to be one. This has led to the mushrooming of scores of “certifiers” with little or no religious or technical expertise. A related problem is that of self-certification by the companies. This essentially makes the whole exercise redundant as then there is no third-party oversight.

Fragmented and haphazard

The US government’s regulation of what constitutes halal works in a fragmented and haphazard manner. The Department of Agriculture oversees federally regulated plants and also inspects exporters to ensure that they meet the importing country requirements. Since 2000, eight states have also enacted their own halal consumer protection legislation similar to the ones that were designed for kosher consumers. But the scope of these laws is often vague and poorly implemented. Cutbacks in the public sector has led to an acute shortage of inspectors, making them effectively toothless. But there have been rare cases when the authorities did crack down on those indulging in fraud. The Orange County District Attorney, for instance, obtained a US$527,000 settlement in 2011 from a business which was fraudulently selling selling generic meat as halal.
In order to protect both the consumers and the reputation of the industry, it is vital that a holistic approach be adopted involving all stakeholders. There are obvious limitations to governmental involvement due to the separation of church and state principle. But it can certainly improve transparency and consumer information by mandating that anyone selling a product as halal should back up that claim. The disclosure requirements of New York’s Halal Food Act of 2005  if strictly implemented, which they are currently not, could serve as a good model. The government can also regulate the certifiers by imposing a minimum set of standards including qualifications and avoidance of conflict of interest.
Bureaucratization and professionalization of the halal certifiers at a minimum will greatly improve reliability – as it has in the kosher industry – if not completely eliminate fraud. A transparent and reliable American halal industry is good not only for consumers but also for businesses.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Shariah Food demand shows Halal stock promise

Eight years ago, Taleb Mohamad Almahmoud started importing a non-alcoholic beer popular in the Middle East to Malaysia. Now he's bringing more than 300,000 bottles of Dubai-brewed Barbican into the country a month.
"There are many Arabs here and they like the drink because there's no alcohol," the Syrian-born Almahmoud said in an interview near his shop in downtown Kuala Lumpur that also stocks spices, couscous, pickled olives and Turkish coffee. "Malaysians like it too."
The popularity of halal products such as Barbican that comply with the Koran's tenets helped drive a 4.6 per cent gain in the SAMI Halal Food Index of shares this year, beating the 0.2 per cent rise in the Bloomberg World Food Index by miles.
The industry's expansion is also flowing through to debt markets, with the Malaysia International Islamic Financial Centre estimating companies involved in Shariah-compliant food, textiles, tourism and healthcare have sold $US5 billion of sukuk - the Islamic equivalent of bonds - to date.

The outlook for the $US2 trillion ($2.3 trillion) global halal industry that also includes fashion and entertainment is underpinned by a worldwide Muslim population that the Pew Research Center sees growing at twice the rate of non-believers through 2030.
Demographics like that have lured the world's biggest food company Nestle, which markets Shariah-compliant noodles and breakfast cereals.
'Obvious conduit'
"Halal is a huge industry and the growth rate is massive," said Baiza Bain, a director at Islamic finance consultancy Amanie Advisors in Melbourne. "Companies are making sure that they adopt the inclusiveness policy that will broaden their market."
Spending by Muslim consumers on halal products and services worldwide is forecast to increase by more than half to $US2.47 trillion by 2018 from 2012, according to the Kuala Lumpur-based MIFC.
Nestle (Malaysia) ships its products to more than 50 countries and may soon start exporting to Europe and South America, said Zainun Abdul Rauf, executive director for corporate affairs.
Sukuk sales
The share price of the company, which set up a 700 million ringgit ($242 million) sukuk program in 2003, has risen 0.9 per cent this year, faring better than Malaysia's benchmark stock index with its 2.3 per cent drop.
Worldwide sales of bonds that comply with Islam's ban on interest have increased tenfold in the last decade. Issuance has reached $US39.9 billion so far this year, 13 per cent more than at the same point in 2013, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
Ajinomoto, Japan's third-largest food company, sells Shariah-compliant food seasonings and drink sweeteners. The Asian nation and Spain have held halal summits this year to explore ways to develop the industry, while the UK plans to set up a business park to produce Shariah-compliant meat, according the MIFC report.
As well as prohibiting products that include alcohol and pork and banning gambling, Islamic tenets require that animals be slaughtered in a particular way accompanied by the recitation of a prayer.
Huge demand
Halal Industry Development Corp., a Malaysian government agency, estimates the global industry excluding financial services exceeds $US2 trillion and will grow 4 per cent to 5 per cent annually. Demand for Shariah-compliant products will come from established centres such as the Middle East as well as emerging markets including India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, said its chief executive, Jamil Bidin.
"The global demand is huge," he said. "Many non-Muslim countries are participating in this because they see that halal is big business."

Monday, November 17, 2014

Distance Learning Post Graduate Diploma in Halal Industry

Halal Research Council is pleased to offer “Post Graduate Diploma in Halal Industry”. This program is highly structured, interactive and innovatively designed distance learning program with an interactive methodology taught under the supervision of Halal industrial experts, Shariah scholars and technical professionals of various national and international universities, research and technical Institutes and Government agencies.
After the completion of courses, the students will have a comprehensive understanding about the concepts of Halal mechanism and certification of Halal and the prospects of Halal knowledge.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Global Halal Food Standards must be Consistent

Ongoing developments include certification, accreditation and standard setting

Halal food sector across the globe will need to be integrated through uniform standards. This was endorsed by food experts at the 9th Dubai International Food safety conference on Tuesday.
“The halal food sector is poised for significant growth over the next five years. Current estimates suggest that the global halal food segment is worth around $667 billion and accounts for around 20 per cent of the global food trade,” said Khalid Sheriff, director food control department at Dubai Municipality. “Such huge amounts of foods require applying uniform and harmonised standards and regulations.”
Khalid was speaking at the second Halal Food Symposium. He stressed on how the Halal food industry will soon be the turning point in Dubai’s economic development.
“As Dubai aims to be the ‘capital of the Islamic economy’ in two years, many initiatives are being prepared at the federal and local levels to cater for the need to establish laws and regulations related to halal foods.”
The initiatives range from updating existing standards to drafting new ones to fill any legislative gap, and to harmonise regulations globally.
The ongoing developments in the halal food business include certification, accreditation and standard setting.
Representatives of various regulatory and statutory bodies from all around the world, especially Islamic countries and the countries that export foods to Islamic countries were among the participants, in addition to international organizations and private institutions.
Amir Sakic, Halal food expert, Agency for Halal Quality Certification, Islamic Community – Bosnia and Herzegovina, spoke about how to tackle the issues in halal food business, trends and experiences, while Dr Abdallah Belal Adam, Leader of Halal Meat Research Group, University of HAIL- Kingdom Of Saudi Arabia, shed light on the halal meat authenticity, new analytic methods in differentiation between halal and non-halal meat.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Halal food Production Launched in Balkans

In a bid to fight against economic crisis, producers in the Balkans turned towards halal food targeting both Western and Muslim countries markets, as demand for such products is constantly growing.
“Halal market represents more than one billion people across the globe. It is a young market with an important purchasing power and whose demand grows between 10 and 20 percent yearly,” said Amel Kovacevic, one of the organisers of a halal food fair in Sarajevo.
The three-day fair, that opened on Wednesday, is the first of its kind in the Balkans and it hosted some 30 producers from the region.
They came with their meat products, cheese, sweets, pastry, oils and halal cosmetics.
The Balkans region is well located in the Mediterranean basin which enables it to target both Western and Muslim countries market, Kovacevic said.
“In this economic and financial crisis that puts into question the existence of many companies one has to profit from the fact that we are in the very middle, between the East and the West.
“We have clean land and air and unexpensive labour force. It is a chance for economic development of this region,” he concluded.
In 2009 global halal food market was estimated at some $635 billion (490 billion euros) according to the “World Halal Forum.”
“Halal should not been seen as something that will immediately accelerate production and make profit grow in a day,” Asim Bajraktarevic, in charge of production in a processed meats factory, told AFP.
“It is the way to improve the quality of products and create conditions for growth once we enter foreign markets,” the young man added.
The Brajlovic factory, near Sarajevo, with a capacity of some 15 tons of products daily, obtained its halal certification three months ago. It is among some 150 food producers in the Balkans region that decided to respect same production norms for more than 2,000 products.
The number of both companies that obtain halal certifications in the Balkans and their products grow between 30 and 40 percent yearly while their turnover is currently estimated at some 550 million euros ($708 million), Amir Sakic, head of an agency for halal certification in Sarajevo, said.
Halal, an Arab word meaning “lawful,” refers to all things and actions permitted by Koran to practising Muslims, notably to a ritual to slaughter an animal, only a herbivore, that has to be conscious when slaughtered and its body should by drained of blood.
Also at the time of slaughter the phrase “bismallah” or in the “name of God (Allah)” should be pronounced by a practising Muslim, Sakic explained.
“For me it is very important to have a possibility to buy products with halal certifications since I respect recommendations of the Prophet Mohammed that ban pork and its by-products,” assured Mirza Suvalija, a pensioner wearing the Islamic veil, who visited the fair.
Sakic’s agency, that is referential in the region, was founded in 2006 with help of local Islamic community in the country where Muslims are majority while the others are Orthodox and Catholic Christians.
Muslims make up some 40 percent of Bosnia’s population of some 3.8 million, but most of them are not looking for halal-labelled products. Also, purchasing power is rather low and regional producers focus their hopes elsewhere.
A large number of companies that demanded to be given halal certifications are from Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia, neighbouring countries where Catholic and Orthodox Christians are majority.
“We export our products to some twenty countries. This year we obtained halal certification and it helped us a lot to increase our sales, notably in Scandinavian countries,” said Kalin Babusku, an official of the Macedonian factory “Mama’s.”
The factory produces jams and “ajvar,” a kind of seasoning based on pepper, egg-plant and garlic, a product very popular throughout the Balkans.
“Before obtaining the certification we were exporting to Sweden a truck of products every three months. Now we export a truck monthly,” said Babusku who was presenting “Mama’s” products at the Sarajevo fair.

Friday, October 31, 2014

What's the big fuss about Halal certification?

Increased trade with the Middle East and South East Asia means Halal certification is a booming business in Australia.
The sector is projected to be worth $1.6 trillion worldwide by 2050, and Australian food exporters are racing to get into the market.
I think Australia is quite proud of its ability to produce Halal meat to international requirements, while doing it in a humane way.
Halal food has been prepared according to Islamic law, and is free from pork products, alcohol and certain other ingredients. A variety of Islamic groups are involved in Halal certification, with companies who wish their products to carry a Halal label paying fees for inspection and certification.
According to beef industry journalist Jon Condon, Halal certification is widespread in Australia and can be a big money earner for meat processors.
'What it means is when the various body parts are divided up it gives those export meat works the flexibility to sell certain items, including meat cuts and offal, into Halal markets.'
'In some cases, it can be the highest paying markets, so it's all part of finding the optimum market for each individual item.'
Mr Condon says Australia has a good reputation in terms of its ability to meet Halal requirements.
'We are able to sell Halal certified products into the Middle East, South East Asia and other communities around the world.'
'I think Australia is quite proud of its ability to produce Halal meat to international requirements, while doing it in a humane way.'
This certification process has angered a small number of consumers, however. Kirralie Smith is the founder of Halal Choices and does not support Halal labelling. Ms Smith and other anti-Halal activists claim certification fees are being directed to mosques which aim to impose Sharia law in Australia. She says her objections are not about racism, however.
'There are companies wanting to make a lot of money out of it,' says Ms Smith.
'A lot of these companies are just paying the certification because they don't want the hassle.'
Dr Muhammad Khan, the CEO of Halal Australia, says there is nothing wrong with money from Halal certification going to mosques.
'It is absolutely not necessary to talk about this subject matter,' he says.
'Don't [Kosher certification organizations] fund their own synagogues? Why can't the Islamic certification body give donations to mosque projects?'
Mr Khan says accusations of secrecy are misguided, and the Halal certification process is helping the Australian economy grow.
The Byron Bay Cookie Company, which has been certified Halal for 10 years, recently became the target of anti-Halal campaigners, who objected to the company's Anzac biscuits carrying the Halal label.
'It hasn't been easy, we've had a lot of calls and emails that have been quite aggressive where we have had to ask the police to step in,' the company's CEO, Keith Byrne, told ABC News.
'We as an iconic brand have been targeted but ultimately if people look at any major producer will typically have Halal depending on the countries they supply too.'
Like meat processors who say Halal is no different to certification for grain-fed and grass-fed cattle, Mr Byrne compares Halal to gluten-free labelling.
'The Halal company that certifies us is based in Sydney, they come and they audit us and then they go away again, they don't bless our foods, they don't bless our site, there's no religious context to it, they check our hygiene and they check that there's no alcohol there.'
What is Halal?
Halal is an Arabic word meaning lawful or permitted. In reference to food, it is the dietary standard, as prescribed in the Koran.
By official definition, Halal foods are those that are:
1. Free from any component that Muslims are prohibited from consuming according to Islamic law.
2. Processed, made, produced, manufactured and/or stored using utensils, equipment and/or machinery that have been cleansed according to Islamic law.
All foods are considered Halal except the following:
-Alcoholic drinks and intoxicants
-Non-Halal animal fat
-Enzymes (microbial enzymes are permissible)
-Gelatin from non-Halal source (fish gelatin is Halal)
-L-cysteine (if from human hair)
-Lipase (only animal lipase need be avoided)
-Non-Halal animal shortening
-Pork products
-Unspecified meat broth
-Rennet (All forms should be avoided except for plant, microbial and synthetic rennet, as well as rennet obtained from Halal slaughtered animals)
-Stock (mixed species broth or meat stock)
-Tallow (non-Halal species)
-Carnivorous animals, birds of prey and certain other animals
-Foods contaminated with any of the above products

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Post Graduate Diploma in Halal Industry

The Post Graduate Diploma in Halal Industry is intended to impart the comprehensive knowledge on Halal Industry in its true sense and concept to the people which are either related or not to the Halal Industry or even from the other professions.

The purpose of this diploma is to equip the graduates with the Shariah principles on Halal Industry fulfilling the global needs of human resources and to produce well equipped professionals with the accurate learning of Halal and Certification concepts.

The aim of the diploma is to provide educational facilities and training to people who cannot leave their homes or offices/jobs or to facilitate to the masses for their learning uplift under Halal Industry.

The course serves the society by providing affordable and accessible learning through a quality technical and technology support. Distance learning to the people around the globe will be provided disseminating the useful knowledge on the Halal Industry, acquiring professional skills for the development of new products and ethical disposition.

This course consists of four modules and each module is of 2 months duration. Each Module builds up on knowledge from the previous one. You will be evaluated by subjective as well as multiple choice question on each lesson. Modules are sent by post which includes the introductory material set.

Your course Material consists of:
·         Literature & Presentations in PDF format
·         Video CD’s & Power Point Presentations
·         Solved and unsolved case studies.
·         Books in PDF format, List of references Book and related websites.

The introductory material set includes comprehensive Power Point Presentations, literature on the topic, useful web links, magazine & newspapers, articles and conference papers on Islamic banking and finance as well as recommended reading list. Students also utilize the Knowledge Centre section of AlHuda CIBE website ( The next module material is sent after the successful completion of the previous module. The course content of the first module will be sent by courier while the other course content will be sent by email.

This diploma would be of 8 months which will consist of 4 Modules and each module would consist of 2 courses.

In first Module, concepts of Halal and General Guidance about Halal Food would be taught whereas Role of Food Ingredients and Halal Slaughtering in second Module, prospective of Halal Industry worldwide and Halal banking in third Module and Halal Standardization and prospective of Halal Industry in developed Area will be taught in fourth module.

It should be clear that Halal Food Industry is flourishing at a very rapid pace and its volume has reached to 2.3 Trillion Dollars. It is expected that this diploma would provide strong pillars to Halal Food industry on practical bases.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Halal Certification: A Gateway to Export Markets

The Halal food market is expected to be worth US$1.6 trillion globally by 2018. With an average growth rate of 6.9 percent a year, it’s a sector that cannot be ignored, especially by food manufacturers keen to make their mark internationally.
While many manufacturers may question the value of gaining certification in Australia, where the Muslim community represents a relatively small proportion of the nation’s population, those companies looking to broaden their horizon beyond Australia’s shores would be well versed in the importance of meeting Halal criteria.
What is Halal?
Derived from the Koran, Islam’s book of faith, the word ‘Halal’ literally means ‘lawful’ or ‘acceptable’.
Dr Muhammad Khan, chief executive officer at Halal Australia, a certification and accreditation company, told Food mag the best way to understand what Halal is, is to understand what Halal is not.
“As a general rule of thumb, everything is Halal except what has been described as not Halal.
“’Haram’ means ‘prohibited’ or ‘unlawful’, so products like swine or pork and its bi-products, and animals which are not properly slaughtered or they die before slaughtering, are not accepted as Halal. So the blood is prohibited. Obviously alcoholic drinks and intoxicants are also not Halal; carnivorous animals such as lions, tigers and monkeys are not Halal, and certain other animals like scorpions, snakes and things like that - they are not Halal.
“However, when it comes to processed foods, if it is contaminated with any of the products that I’ve mentioned, or their derivatives, including emulsifiers like 471 or 472, and also gelatin, they are not Halal,” Khan says.
Certification is about ensuring these ingredients aren't included in the manufacture of food products, and haven’t contaminated the manufacturing process in some way, for example, by being used on the same production line as non-Halal products or ingredients.
With Halal certification being more about what isn't included in the product than what is, a product could be deemed Halal without the manufacturer even realizing or intending it to be. However, if that product is – or one day could be – destined for an export market, certification is worth considering, if not essential.
Why gain certification?
Similar to organic and kosher certification, Halal certification guarantees Muslim consumers that the product has been grown/reared, processed and manufactured in a certain way.
Dalene Wray, general manager at OBE Organic, a certified organic and Halal producer and exporter of beef, says certification allows companies to access new markets around the world.

“From a manufacturing point of view, it gives the manufacturer or the producer of the product more opportunities for sales of their product globally, if its Halal certified.
“There are markets around the world that you can’t export to unless you have Halal certification. So those would include the Middle East, Indonesia, Malaysia and to some extent Singapore. However, what we’ve found is that our Halal certification is advantageous to all markets we export to around the world, even though to clear customs you don’t need it.
“For example the US. We don’t need Halal certification to clear the US government customs, however we’ve found that the end users of our product in retail in America are Muslim consumers and they want our product to be Halal certified,” Wray says.
She adds that certification allows OBE Organic to capitalize on the Australian government’s efforts to build relationships with certain export markets.
“We can take advantage of a lot of the activities that the federal and state government is doing to build relationships in those markets … and also we’ve got the Queensland government doing trade visits to the Middle East, so [we’re] really capitalizing on a huge growth trend in opportunities in the Middle East markets.”
According to a report commissioned by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce, the global Halal market is expected to be worth US$1.6 trillion by 2018, up from US$1.1 trillion in 2013. Halal food made up 16.6 percent of the total world food market in 2013, and by 2018 this is expected to rise to 17.4 percent.
The Muslim population represents roughly 23 percent of the global community – or 1.8 billion people - and is growing at a rate of about three percent per annum, says Halal Australia’s Mohammed Khan.
But certification isn't all about servicing Muslim consumers or benefiting export markets; Australians – regardless of their faith or background – can benefit from the growing Halal market too, he says.
“A lot of companies are happy to seek certification because they see it as adding value to the company, something that bring a lot of money and that also can increase the employability of Australians. Companies can sell a lot more products than they would normally sell [if they’re Halal] and that obviously increases the demand for employment.
“It’s a win/win situation for everybody. Even if one person is employed by a company, and that person is a bread winner and either he or she can support their family in the Halal way – Halal means in a lawful way – it’s good.”
Spreading the word
Gaining certification is only one half of the equation, says Lisa Mabe, founder of Hewar Social Communications, a PR consultancy specializing in the global speciality food market.

“If you make the effort and spend time and money to earn certification, why would you not target the very people who are looking for that certification?” she says.
Mabe told Food mag that manufacturers exporting to regions with Muslim populations tend to focus on their relationships with retailers rather than the end users. They’re relying on distributors in foreign markets to market the product’s certification on the manufacturer’s behalf, but the message often doesn't get through, she says.
“In terms of reaching consumers, I don’t see many products doing much at all … I really think there’s a lack of understanding of the potential of those markets,” she says.
OBE Organic is a client of Mabe’s, and is one of few Australian brands to actively promote its Halal certification both here and abroad. The company even has a separate Facebook page dedicated to targeting Muslim consumers.
“A lot of business that we do is private label, which means that the retailer puts their own label on the product, and they may or may not choose to identify the product as Halal certified. Our job then is a little more difficult, and we have to articulate that message through our marketing, which is mostly done through social media,” Wray says.
“So we have a dedicated Facebook page just for marketing to Muslim consumers. We don’t know of any other food or beef company in Australia that has two Facebook pages: one for marketing to the world and one specifically for communicating with and sharing content that’s relevant to Muslim consumers.”
Content includes recipes, conversations about the Islamic holy month, Ramadan, and discussions regarding festivals celebrated in Middle Eastern communities.
Wray agrees with Maybe that Australian manufactures which have gained certification aren't promoting it as effectively as they could, or should.
“OBE is one of the few companies in Australia that is leveraging and marketing the fact that our product is Halal. We make a big deal of it; it’s all over our homepage,” she says. “There are not many other companies around the world that can produce certified organic beef that’s also Halal certified.
“I don’t know if I could even count the number [of brands] on one hand that actively promote the fact that their product is Halal,” she says.
Mabe came to Australia from the US about 18 months ago, and was surprised by the number of brands that had certification, however very few of them were communicating it to consumers.
“It’s a missed opportunity,” she says, especially considering Australia already has a reputation overseas for being a clean, safe food manufacturer.
Put the trust that this ‘clean and green’ reputation creates together with the reassurance that certification provides to a growing, potentially lucrative demographic, and Australian manufacturers are in an enviable position.
“[Muslim consumers] trust that if it’s from Australia, it’s safe. With its reputation of producing clean and safe food, Australia is in a unique position to not only participate in, but also lead in the Halal food market,” Maybe says.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Organic Halal Meats Get Muslims Thinking About What It Really Means To Eat Religiously

The Prophet Muhammad advised his followers to treat animals with kindness and, if needed, kill them mercifully for food. And he didn’t mince words.
“Whoever kills a sparrow or anything bigger than that without a just cause, Allah will hold him accountable on the Day of Judgment,” the Prophet reportedly said.
Remembering these instructions, New York farmer Zaid Kurdieh says much of the meat that brands itself as halal, or religiously permissible, is nothing but a sham.
For Kurdieh, if it’s not organic, it’s not halal.
“Most people associate halal with slaughter. But that’s just the end of the process,“ the 50-year-old Norwich farmer told the Huffington Post. “All animals have a right to live to a certain age, to eat good food, get good treatment. All of those things constitute halal.”
The Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America, a halal certification organization, estimates that the U.S. halal market is worth at least $20 billion. And the industry is expected to grow, the AP reports.
Muslims like Kurdieh are now thinking deeply about how the recommendations the Prophet gave his followers centuries ago fit in with today’s fast-paced, global food markets.
For meat to be halal, animals are required to be killed by hand using a sharp knife, with a single slash to the throat. The person doing the killing should ideally be a Muslim who utters God’s name as the animal exhales its last breath. The practice is intended to make sure the creatures die swiftly and without much pain.
Death matters, of course. But quality of life matters, too.
“I don’t want to eat animals that were systematically abused their whole lives," Nuri Friedlander, a Muslim chaplain at Harvard University, told the Daily Beast. "From a spiritual practice, I didn’t want to get that into my body."
That's why some Muslims are beginning to look past the halal label and examine where exactly their meat is coming from.
Kurdieh is the managing owner of Norwich Meadows Farm, a small, certified organic company that raises chicken and turkey, while sourcing their lamb and beef from trusted local family farms. None of their animals are given growth hormones, antibiotics, or genetically modified foods crammed with animal byproducts. The creatures are raised outdoors and grass-fed, given the space to roam and grow at their own pace.
“When you take an animal out of the wild, you’re responsible for its eating, its drinking, whatever it needs,” Kurdieh said. “It’s a tenet of our religion.”
This philosophy is maintained by Honest Chops, a halal butcher shop in New York City that cuts up hand-slaughtered, ethically-raised beef and chicken.
Along with the word halal, Chops co-founder Imam Khalid Latif says the Koran uses the word “tayyib” when it talks about what kinds of foods Muslims should eat. Tayyib means something that is pure or clean.
“There’s a lot of unhygienic, unethical practices taking place,” Latif told the Huffington Post. “Animals are being fed excrements and processed carcasses of their own species. They’re lodged on top of each other with no room to walk. It’s disgusting and inhumane.”
Honest Chops has pledged an “Honest to God Guarantee” that its meats are grass-fed and raised in a way that conforms to Islam’s guidelines. They’ve also promised to pay workers “dignified” wages and give back to the community.
During this year’s Eid Al Adha holiday, which falls on Oct. 4, Honest Chops launched an Udhiya/Qurbani campaign. For Eid, Muslims are encouraged to offer an animal as a sacrifice in remembrance of God’s mercy towards Abraham, then offer portions of the meat to charity.
Latif said that the 2014 campaign will help feed 200 local families in need.
But conscious eating comes with a price. Kurdieh said his customers often experience “sticker shock” when they see the prices of his meats.
“A pound of chicken at the green markets is $7, while they’re buying industrial chicken at $1.50,” the farmer said. “A lot of education has to happen before this becomes a widespread movement.”
For Latif, change starts with understanding that worship happens in a “framework of selflessness.”
“People have to understand that being Muslim isn’t something that just benefits them, but also brings benefit to the society around them,” Latif said. “It’s understanding that you have something to give back.”

Friday, September 26, 2014

Global Islamic economy growing faster than ever: expert

Dammam, Asharq Al-Awsat—The global Islamic economy is growing faster now than at any time previously, attracting increasing investment from around the world, according to the chief executive of a company operating in the sector.
Nader Sabri, chief executive of Muslim lifestyle products manufacturer TIMEZ5, told Asharq Al-Awsat the sector—which includes segments such as Islamic finance and halal food products, as well as the collective economic output of Muslim countries—was “growing faster than at any time before” and had “become very attractive for international investors,” a large portion of whom were not Islamic or based in Muslim-majority countries.
“There are two types of company [operating in this sector],” Sabri said. “The first comprises those who are entering Islamic markets from the outside. These are mostly non-Islamic companies whose interest in Islamic markets is part of a [wider] strategy for entering emerging markets.”
“The second type are those who look [for opportunities] in Islamic markets from the inside, [looking then to venture] outside [Islamic countries]. These are usually companies managed by Muslims or with a focus on this [Islamic] market,” he continued.
“The first type seeks to create opportunities and to capitalize on Islamic markets as they would in any other market. These companies are not driven by Islamic values but will adhere to them [in their activities] in order to reach these markets,” he said.
“The second type of company, meanwhile, adopts Islamic values as part of its raison d’ĂȘtre and applies quality standards and . . . innovation in Islamic markets.”
Speaking of Gulf contribution to the overall Islamic economy, Sabri said that “50 percent of the market’s total revenues” came from Gulf countries, adding that 87 percent of Gulf revenues came from non-Gulf consumers who purchased such products while visiting the region, especially during the pilgrimage season when the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia are crowded with pilgrims who often purchase products to give as gifts to family members back home.
But Islamic products also have appeal in non-Islamic countries due to the estimated 300 million Muslims living there, Sabri said, adding this showed there was “a need for more products . . . for Muslims living in foreign [non-Islamic] countries.”
The global Islamic economy includes all sectors driven by the global Muslim population’s adherence to any kind of faith-based activity, with products or services created to cater for such activities. These include Islamic finance, where consumers can obtain loans, mortgages, insurance policies or investment products all adhering to Islamic Shari’a law by avoiding the need to make money via interest. It also includes the global halal food market, which follows Islamic prescriptions on animal slaughter, as well as the tourism, cosmetics, pharmaceutical, media, leisure, and lifestyle segments.
“The lifestyle products segment is currently one of the fastest-growing in the global Islamic market, after years of being on the margins due to the domination of the market by Islamic finance and halal food products,” Sabri said.
A recent Thomson Reuters report estimated the total size of the halal food and Islamic lifestyle products segments at 1.62 trillion US dollars, expecting it to grow to 2.47 trillion dollars by 2018.
The global Islamic economy also encompasses the economies of Islamic countries around the world—estimated at 8 trillion US dollars in total size—which together hold a 1.6 billion population currently growing at twice the rate of the global population.
Sabri added: “Historically, investment in the Islamic market has been concentrated on two segments: Islamic finance and halal food products. The total size of the Islamic market is between 10–12 trillion dollars approximately. And given that the growth rate of the world’s Muslim population is around 1.5 percent, which is double that of the world’s non-Muslim population, Muslims consumers worldwide represent a strong economic force.”
But despite the size of the global Islamic economy and its impressive growth in recent years, there are also many difficulties associated with operating in this market.
“The main challenge is the adoption of new technologies,” Sabri said. “This begins at the simplest level: Muslim consumers have become used to traditional designs, colors and styles, which makes changing these deeply embedded aesthetic expectations a very difficult task indeed. As such, it is important to market and inform consumers of new innovations and to create a suitable, trustworthy environment for the safe consumption of new products.”
Despite this, Sabri points to the success of a number of new products and innovations that have recently entered the market.
“This means the Muslim consumer has become much more receptive towards new ideas,” he said. “It is important to market these products using the language of the consumer . . . joining local cultures with Islamic values, and using the mother tongue of the [particular] consumer [being targeted], in addition to applying internationally recognized standards [for all products], which helps increase the demand for the product.”