Western food giants seek slice of halal market

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Halal, Islam

Food and consumer goods firms have been jumping on the bandwagon to
certify their products under strict Islamic rules to tap into a
market worth $150 billion a year, industry experts said this week.

Food and consumer goods firms have been jumping on the bandwagon to certify their products under strict Islamic rules to tap into a market worth $150 billion a year, industry experts said this week.

"McDonald's, KFC, Nestle and other major food producers are coming on board as there is more and more halal awareness,"​ Mohamad Sadek, vice-president of the World Halal Food Council, told Reuters at the group's meeting in Kuala Lumpur.

Demand for products certified "halal"​ - prepared according to strict Muslim laws which include the avoidance of all pork - goes beyond food and is extending into cosmetics, officials said.

Halal means lawful or permitted. Under Islamic laws halal meat and poultry must be slaughtered by Muslims and according to established Islamic rites.

All foods are considered halal except pork, carrion, blood and poisonous or dirty animals. Alcohol is also not halal.

Islamic bodies from the United States, Saudi Arabia and several other countries, say the halal list is set to grow in the coming years with Muslims making up more than a billion of a world population which exceeds six billion.

Marketing experts have said that America's Muslims - variously estimated to number four to nine million people - may be well assimilated into the US consumer culture but many also want to follow their religion's rules when they shop and eat.

California has become the latest US state to pass a law requiring shops and restaurants advertising Muslim fare to adhere to halal dietary laws.

"It becomes very important for others to have their products halal-certified to be able to enter the Muslim market,"​ said one speaker at the Kuala Lumpur meeting.

Aisjah Girindra, director of the food assessment institute at the Indonesian Council of Ulama (MUI), welcomed the move by more Western firms to provide halal foods.

"They know Muslims won't consume just anything,"​ she said.

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation with around 210 million people, has seen some controversy over the issue of halal foodstuffs.

Food additives producer PT Ajinomoto Indonesia was forced to withdraw all its products, used in many Indonesian households, from the market last year after MUI found evidence that the company's products were pork-tainted.

Indonesia has also banned imports of US chicken parts, describing them as not halal.

"The halal status is unclear...so when it doubt leave it out,"​ MUI chairman Amidham said.

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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