Monday, January 26, 2015

The Perception Problem of Halal Food Industry

Can an agenda driven small vocal minority with social media savvy derail a trillion dollar industry? 

If you do not address a provocative rumour, does it become a reality?
Can an agenda driven small vocal minority with social media savvy derail a trillion dollar industry?
The agenda is the halal food industry for the nearly two billion Muslims and non-Muslims with aligned values.

The vocal minority is the ‘halal-hysteria’ movement, like Boycott Halal in Australia via Facebook, and its viral impact has reached beyond the country’s shores.
What is the ‘measured and proportional’ response from the halal industry as its impacting local SMEs (with halal products) and Australia’s reputation in its export markets like the Gulf countries?
Two points to discuss:
What is the manner of the ‘halal’ slaughter?
What are the cross section of comments by the ‘halal-hysteria’ movement?

The word ‘slaughter’ may no longer be politically correct to use when describing the event. The event is actually a sacrifice to the Creator for the bounty bestowed upon us (mankind, not just Muslims) so that we part-take of the good and healthy blessings.
“Dhabiah is the prescribed method of slaughter for all meat sources, excluding fish and other sea-life, per Islamic law. This method of slaughtering animals consists of using a well-sharpened knife to make a swift, deep incision that cuts the front of the throat, the carotid artery, windpipe, and jugular veins. The head of an animal that is slaughtered using halal methods is aligned with the qiblah. In addition to the direction, permitted animals should be slaughtered upon utterance of the Islamic prayer “in the name of God.”
The halal (permissible) is a process and procedure, and it starts not at the sacrifice at the abattoir, but at the birth of the animal! Where was the animal was born (cage)? What was it fed (grind up pieces of other animals and antibiotics)? How was it raised (same cage)? How was it transported to the abattoir (smaller cage)? Did the animal view other animals sacrificed?
The focus has to be the life-cycle of the animal and not just the last six seconds of their life. Thus, more light has to be shown on factory farming so that all consumers can make an informed decision.
The comments
The comments, from informative to provocative, after an article usually convey a pulse of the sentiment, right or wrong, for those interested in the topic. The sentiments based on evidence change opinions versus sentiments that are meant to inflame.
Here are two comments from a recent article January 22, ‘Some people really don’t understand what halal means.’
“The halal rort is growing fast and is now a multi-trillion dollar industry world-wide. Halal certified food involves a fee paid to an Islamic certifying body and this means any halal certified food we buy incurs an Islamic tax under Shariah law. Part of this then apparently funnelled through to the Islamic Brotherhood and others. The little halal symbols are on a huge variety of everyday food and are becoming an increasing part of our Western diet. We are not just talking about meat here. It has been described as ‘Stealth Jihad in the West’. Even Cadbury’s chocolate is catering to them including promoting shariah-compliant, halal-certified chocolate bunnies and eggs for Easter! So Muslims celebrate Easter now?”
Few points here:
— There is a Muslim/Shariah tax for non-Muslims who purchase halal? Why is the writer not raising the issue for organic and Kosher, also available in their countries? Furthermore, such people have the freedom not to purchase. One can vote by their ‘dollars.’
— Part of the halal certification fees is sent to fund ‘Islamic Brotherhood.’ Where is the evidence, as forensic accounting of books and wire transfer closely monitor the situation? The said organisation is banned in the Muslim countries.
— The halal food becoming part of the western diet. Why is that bad? If this person ate a halal sacrificed meat versus non-halal, would he/she be able to tell the difference? The halal industry needs to present hard scientific evidence of the benefits of complete draining of the blood, which may be produced by non-stun slaughter.
If Nestle, with 500 halal products in Malaysia, and Cadbury are offering halal products, it’s because there is a consumer demand and not because they want to back-door a religion. The money Nestle and Cadbury receives from selling their products eventually goes to paying their employees, their shareholders and support stock prices.
If Muslims want to have purchase halal chocolates during Easter or halal turkey during Thanksgiving, isn’t it about tolerance, understanding and respecting other’s faiths?
The writer below is probably the sampling, and industry needs to answer his questions.
‘Let’s not overreact. It has nothing to do with “financing Islam” or “supporting” or “not supporting” Muslims. As long as no one is misbehaving, forcing others to do something or threatening my way of life, I don’t care what religion they are, as long as they are peaceful — but truly peaceful, not in the MSM kind of way. Halal hysteria is a bit over the top, in my opinion. Yes, the animals are suffering (I think) and it looks cruel — so that alone may push people to avoid halal meat (if they can avoid it, someone rightly pointed that most meat in NZ is halal certified anyway — but I think it is done in a slightly more caring way using stun gun first). But a lot of other animals are killed cruelly, like ducks to get the foie gras, which I adore. So, what do we do there?’
What is the halal industry campaign to educate?


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

US firm extends invite to Islamic scholars in fake Gulf Halal Food case

A US-based food company accused of supplying beef to several Gulf countries that it falsely claimed was halal has extended an open invitation to Islamic scholars and official auditors in the Middle East to inspect its food process for Halal compliance.
Last month, it was reported that Midamar Corporation, based in Iowa, in Midwestern US, had been accused of supplying nearly $5 million worth of beef to Muslim customers in Malaysia, Kuwait and the UAE.
Directors of the company, named as brothers Jalel and Yahya 'Bill' Aossey, have been charged by US federal prosecutors with nearly 100 counts of conspiring to make and use false statements and documents, sell misbranded meat and commit mail and wire fraud.
The company issued a strong denial of the allegations on its website in December and has now issued the invitation in a bid to clear its name.
It said in a statement: "Recent news reports falsely claim that the company sold millions of dollars in meat to the GCC countries, which allegedly did not follow Halal practices.
"Company directors do not accept these allegations that have been made without fully considering the context and diversity of Halal market."
It added: It would be irrational, immoral, and counterproductive for a company like Midamar, which only produces Halal food for sale in the US and for export, to decide to produce and sell non Halal food to Halal consumers.
"This is an industry where companies must guard the Halal integrity of their brand, thereby earning the trust and confidence of Halal consumers. Midamar has been aware of this fact and has acted accordingly for 40 years."
Midamar said it has extended an open invitation to Islamic scholars and designated community leaders in the US, Asia, Middle East, and GCC countries.
Official auditors and community leaders are invited to visit Halal facilities in the USA and witness Midamar processes for themselves. Midamar said it will "engage in discussion on the true nature of the US Halal industry, its practices, challenges and opportunities".
Prosecutors claimed the beef came from a supplier that used bolt stunning to kill cattle and the labels were removed by employees to cover up the real source of the meat.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Singaporean firm launches mobile app for Halal shops

While the halal food and beverage market is estimated to reach $1.6 trillion by 2018, a mobile application that enables Muslim foodies and travelers to share halal restaurant discoveries around the world has been launched

A Singapore-based company yesterday launched a mobile application that enables Muslim foodies and travelers to share halal restaurant discoveries around the world. The free "HalalTrip" app, available for Apple iOS and Android devices, enables users to take and upload photos of halal dishes, write comments and share them through social media. Clicking on a photo gives details about the dish as well as the location of the restaurant. The app, which has English and Arabic interfaces, also uses a traveler's location to display photos of halal dishes served in nearby restaurants. The term halal is used for food, products and services that comply with Islamic requirements. "Halal food is one of the biggest drivers of tourism for the Muslim market," said Fazal Bahardeen, chief executive of HalalTrip, part of a Muslim-oriented business group called CrescentRating. "When travelling, one of the main concerns of Muslims is halal food. What we did is to bring in a social media element into discovering halal food and making it more fun and more intuitive," he told AFP. Bahardeen predicted the Muslim travel market would be worth $192 billion a year globally by 2020, up from $140 billion in 2013.
In Turkey there are an estimated 5,000 firms with a halal certificate. Turkey is one of the world's most important markets for halal food. Although the majority of the population is Muslim, Turkey is lagging behind compared to other countries with regard to halal certification. The consequence is that Turkish companies are only minor players in the global halal market. For example, Brazil exports $6.5 billion worth of halal meat to countries with Muslim populations. With their current production conditions, food companies in Turkey are well positioned to take a sizeable bite out of this market once the halal certification issue has been addressed. In Turkey, there are two institutions that have authority to give halal certification: the Association for the Inspection and Certification of Food and Supplies (GIMDES) and the Turkish Standards Institute (TSE). GIMDES is a nongovernmental organization founded in 2005, and in 2008, it became a member of the World Halal Council, which brings halal certification institutions to 58 countries. The institutions that accredit GIMDES are the Indonesia MUI, the Malaysia-JAKIM, the Sıngapore-MUIS and the World Halal Council. 
The halal food and beverage market grew to a $1.1 trillion industry in 2013, according to the latest research note by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which is based on a recent study by Thomson Reuters in collaboration with Dinar Standard. 
Globally, the halal food industry is growing in a number of markets - mainly in countries in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region and South and South East Asia. Indonesia is the biggest halal food market with a market value of $197 billion in 2012, according to the report. Turkey, with $100 billion, is the second largest market.