Halal certification opens new markets for UK cheese group

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cheese

European Muslims could be about to develop the taste for regional
cheeses like red leicester, lancashire and even the humble
cheddar following the recent entry of UK-based processor Dewlay
into the halal market.

Company marketing director Ian Coggin told DairyReporter.com that obtaining halal certification for its operations in October has allowed the company to tap new markets for their goods, previously not permitted for Muslim consumption. The claims reflect the growing opportunities for food and beverage manufacturers complying to religious standards like halal and kosher, particularly for specialised or regionally produced goods. Halal is an Islamic term that outlines permissible standards for the preparation and production of goods consumed and used by Muslims, in a similar vein to kosher products for Jews. Dewlay itself, has been producing Kosher cheeses, including cheddar, double gloucester and red leicester, through its Chevington label for about twenty years. Coggin said this distinction had led to the company increasingly being asked whether their cheeses could also be made available for the halal market. Upon further research into the market, the company found it would be possible to make the further amendments "The process was in part, an extension of the work we had done in obtaining our kosher certification,"​ he said. "After liaising with the Halal Food Authority, we worked to amend our operations to comply with requirements." ​The Halal Food Authority is a UK-based non-profit organization that outlines permissible standards for manufacturers. Coggin said in order to fully meet requirements associated with halal certification, amendments needed to be made throughout the company's entire production chain from the farm, up to materials used within packaging. Besides looking at what additives and sourcing the company used for its products, the halal certification process also required the group to remove alcohol-based sanitizer from it operations. "Industrial alcohol is not permitted under halal standards,​" Coggin added. "So that was one area we had to change."​ Even adhesives, used to attach labels onto the cheese packaging, were changed to meet the requirements outlined in Islam, with the presence of gelatin having to be removed. However, with these amendments in place, Coggin added that the group was now able to supply its entire range of cheese products to kosher and halal markets across the globe, extending its focus beyond its core-UK operations. Moves by the group to enter halal production could prove prudent. With more than 1.8bn Muslims globally, the total size of global halal food and non-food (such as financial services, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics) industries is estimated at €1.5 trillion with an expected growth rate of 10 to 20 per cent each year. Though the global market for halal food has never been measured, industry estimates of its value range from $150bn (€110bn) to $500bn (€368bn).

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