Wednesday, October 19, 2011


True Islamic followers consume only "Halal" foods which are raised and processed as per the norms prevalent among the followers of this faith for centuries. Halal Food Industry has acquired a stature beyond religion because of wide skepticism regarding the safety of modern industrial foods and its growth has been phenomenal during the last one decade. Many consumers seem to prefer Halal foods if organic alternatives are not readily available because of their belief that Halal foods are safer to consume. Halal system mainly refers to foods, especially meat products, food contact materials and pharma products which are permissible under Islamic law. Other products are either Haram (forbidden) or Mashbooh (questionable). Many countries insist on clear labeling of Halal foods to enable consumers make a willful choice. Halal system of processing meat animals is not universally accepted because of the bleeding method during slaughtering and hence the requirement for specific labeling. As Halal foods gain increasing acceptance efforts are on to standardize different products and evolve universal certification procedures. Recent developments in Halal foods are highlighted in the following report.

"From farm to fork, Halal is simply the better meat and its major health and business benefits help growth in the market, according to industry specialists. The worldwide Halal food industry is estimated to be over $650 billion, and this segment currently accounts for approximately 16 per cent of the global food market. Speakers at a recent forum agreed that the immediate potentials for investors of Halal food market are in acquiring high net worth Halal food producers, slaughterhouses, ingredients production, Halal livestock, Halal raw meat and Halal industrial parks. The forum was jointly organised by Al Islami Foods and CNBC Arabia. Industry experts who were invited to the forum include Al Islami Foods deputy chief executive officer Hamid Badawi, sales and marketing head Alaa Kamal of US-based Midamar Middle East and general manager Wahid Kandil of Canada-based Prairie Halal Foods Middle East. "From a business point of view, Halal has some major health and business benefits. That is why the market is developing. Attractive growth numbers are grabbing attention of investors," Badawi said on the fast growth of the market. "A Global Halal Standard and Global Halal Certification," Hamid asserted, "is key to resolve the sensitive issues faced by the industry, otherwise the market will remain fragmented and in regional hubs." Legislations for Halal certification vary from one Islamic school of thought, called Madhab in Arabic, to another. Each school of thought and country has its own legislations for Halal certification. Malaysia is one of the key players in the global Halal sector, the others being Australia, Brazil, Thailand, Indonesia and Brunei, with China, France and Japan planning to enter soon. Currently, the market is in its natural evolution process. However, regions and countries differ on Shariah rules of standards and certifications. At present, the Halal market is in the brain-storming phase of developing Common Halal Standard and Common Halal Certification that are acceptable to all four Madahib of Islamic world".

There are lot of similarities between "Kashrut" foods of Jews and Halal foods of Muslims and both sectors are attracting consumers from outside their faith. During the last few years lot of scientific research has gone into these food systems and it is wrong to believe that they are not science based. The root for evolution of such distinct food systems can be traced to the early phase of the religions when there were limited followers and the need to protect them from food poisoning. With the advent of modern science, both Halal foods and Kosher foods have evolved keeping in view the safety of their followers. One advantage for a general consumer belonging to other faiths is that they can choose what they want from among the products in the market without following the diktats from respective religions while followers of the religions have to compulsorily take these products as part of life. The fact that established food industry players are entering Halal food sector reflects the inherent strength of these foods though market considerations do play a part in such investment decisions.


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