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Halal Industry
Halal industry wrap: Tatarstan mulls establishing first halal laboratory

Here's a roundup of key developments across the halal industry ecosystem during the month of November

Editor's note: There is considerable activity in the halal space across Muslim-majority countries, and rightfully so. But it is rather encouraging to see significant strides in countries where Muslims are not numbered as an easy majority. 

A conference in Brazil highlighted the country's growing might in the halal foods space. There are deliberations of establishing a halal laboratory in Tatarstan, a Russian republic, while Philippines is actively encouraging global Muslim investors to establish halal businesses in the country.


Trade Developments

United Kingdom
London welcomes World Halal Business Conference Circuit 2023
The WHBC Circuit 2023 London, focusing on "Halal Opportunities in a Borderless World," commenced with an address by the Malaysian deputy prime minister Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

The event explores global halal business trends, challenges, and emerging opportunities.  (PR Newswire)

Continued demand for Brazilian halal products worldwide 
The Halal do Brasil Day, organized by the Arab-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, ApexBrasil, ABIEC, and ABPA, showcased Brazil's rising prominence in the global halal market during the Anuga Halal Conference.

Representatives emphasized the growing popularity of Brazilian halal products worldwide, attracting a diverse customer base and reinforcing Brazil's position as a major exporter of certified foods. (Zawya)

Philippines promote Mindanao’s unique halal cuisine
The Philippines aims to showcase the culinary richness of the southern island of Mindanao, particularly focusing on the diverse and flavorful Muslim Mindanao food.

Myra Paz Abubakar, the Department of Tourism's undersecretary for Muslim affairs, expresses the nation's eagerness to promote Mindanao's distinctive halal cuisine.  (Global Village Space)

Peru / Malaysia
Malaysia to facilitate halal products certification for Peru
Peruvian President Dina Ercilia Boluarte Zegarra has urged Malaysia to establish an office in Peru for expediting the halal certification of Peruvian products.

Prime Minister Seri Anwar Ibrahim confirmed his agreement to facilitate Peru's request promptly. The decision was made following a bilateral meeting between the leaders on the sidelines of the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting. (The Borneo Post)

BPJPH Signs Mutual Recognition Agreement with 37 Foreign Halal Institutions
The Halal Product Assurance Organizing Agency (BPJPH) of the Religious Affairs Ministry has inked a mutual recognition agreement with 37 foreign halal institutions.

The signing took place on the second day of the H20 Halal World 2023 event in Jakarta. (Tempo)


Iran / Indonesia
Iran, Indonesia to expand cooperation in halal standards
The heads of Iran's Institute of Standards and Industrial Research (INSO) and Indonesia's National Standardization Agency (BSN) have agreed to enhance collaboration in the halal sector.

During the 18th General Assembly Meeting of the Standards and Metrology Institute for Islamic Countries (SMIIC) in Saudi Arabia, INSO's Mehdi Eslam-Panah noted Indonesia's significant experience in the halal industry, considering its sizable Muslim population. (Tehran Times)

Tatarstan mulls first halal laboratory 
The Muslim Spiritual Board of the Republic of Tatarstan is in discussions about establishing the first halal laboratory, adhering to religious rules to address recent cases of pig DNA detection in halal products.

The proposal involves conducting experiments by taking samples directly at the production site rather than in retail outlets, ensuring greater accuracy and reliability.

Manufacturers are reportedly supportive of this approach, expressing a commitment to uncovering the truth about the halal status of their products. (Realnoe Vremya)

SFA focuses on halal meat certification
The Sindh Food Authority (SFA) is set to collaborate with religious scholars to implement halal meat certification, as announced by the authority's director general, Agha Fakhr Hussain.

During a visit to the Jamia Tur Rasheed campus in Ahsanabad, Hussain expressed appreciation for the institution's efforts to provide students with both religious education and modern knowledge.

A meeting between the SFA and religious scholars is planned to outline the details of their cooperation. (The Nation)

Azerbaijan adopts state standard for halal medicines
The Azerbaijan Institute of Standardization (AZSTAND), under the Ministry of Economy, has approved the state standard AZS OIC/SMIIC 50-1:2023, titled "Halal medicines - part 1 - general requirements."

This standard outlines fundamental requirements for the production and transportation of halal medicines, aligning with Islamic principles. (Azernews)

UP bans sale Of halal-certified products 
The Uttar Pradesh government has imposed a
ban on products carrying a halal certification, prohibiting their production, storage, distribution, and sale, with immediate effect.

The state government announced that strict legal measures will be taken against individuals or firms involved in the halal-certified of medicines, medical devices, and cosmetics within Uttar Pradesh. (NDTV)

First ever policy on halal certification comes to light
The Bangladeshi government has introduced a halal certification policy to facilitate the local production and marketing of Shariah-compliant foods, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics.

According to the policy issued by Bangladesh Islamic Foundation (BIF), businesses involved in producing, exporting, and importing goods marketed as halal will now require certification and an associated logo. (Halal Focus)


Muslim investors invited to establish halal businesses in Philippines
The Philippines is actively encouraging global Muslim investors to establish halal businesses in the country, aiming to position itself as an Asia-Pacific hub for the halal industry.

At the Philippine Halal Economy Festival in Manila, the Department of Trade and Industry announced this initiative to tap into the estimated $7 trillion global halal market. (Arab News)



Halal Industry
Uttar Pradesh bans halal-certified products. How do India's religious bodies see it?

Prominent Muslim organizations in India have decried the decision to ban the storage and sale of halal-certified products in the state of Uttar Pradesh, denouncing it 'absurd' and 'unfortunate.' 

Religious bodies have also forewarned of the ban's potential impact on exports to Muslim nations. 

The Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind Halal Trust, the halal certification unit of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, claimed that the government had not sent 'any notice or circular before the move'. The ban infringes upon citizens' fundamental right to consume food in accordance with their faith, it added. 

Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, established in 1919, is a eminent socio-religious organisation of Indian Muslims. 

“The Uttar Pradesh government’s action is evidently based on prejudice against the Muslim community and Islam, irrational, and against friendly and social goodwill,” said Mohammad Salim Engineer, vice president of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind. 

Earlier this month, Uttar Pradesh banned the production, storage, distribution, and sale of products, carrying a halal certification, with immediate effect. The ban exempts meat and products meant for export. 

Uttar Pradesh is India’s most populous state, ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. 

The ban follows a police complaint filed by a member of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), blaming prominent halal certifying organizations in the country of certifying products as halal to boost sales among Muslims.

The complaint targeted prominent organizations such as Halal India Private Limited Chennai, Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind Halal Trust Delhi, Halal Council of India Mumbai, and Jamiat Ulama Maharashtra. It alleged that these organizations were exploiting religious sentiments of consumers for financial gains.

In response, the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind Halal Trust dismissed the allegations as 'baseless' and an attempt to tarnish the image of halal in India.

Speaking to Salaam Gateway, Niaz A. Farooqui, CEO of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind Halal Trust, underscored the global significance of halal-certified products, and emphasized their positive impact on India's role in exports and tourism, constituting a $3.5 trillion industry.

“These baseless allegations could harm India's standing in the Muslim world,” he said, adding that the certification, serves not only as a mandatory requirement for many importing countries but also aids tourists visiting India in making informed product choices.

Refuting claims that halal certification favors only one community, Farooqui highlighted that many non-Muslim-run companies also use halal certificates. He argued that certification is a matter of choice for individuals and manufacturers, ensuring the availability of need-based products in the market, and stressed on the importance of recognizing global standards in halal commerce.

"We abide by government regulations, as highlighted in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry notification, which mandates that all halal certification bodies must be registered with NABCB (National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies under the Quality Council of India). This is a significant milestone that the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind Halal Trust has successfully attained," stated Farooqui.

All their financial transactions were meticulously recorded, accompanied by appropriate GST and income tax payments, and subject to thorough auditing, Farooqui added. “This meticulous approach ensures absolute legality and transparency in our operations.”

Mohamed Jinna, CEO of Halal India Private Limited, states that halal certification not only upholds religious principles but harbors significant potential in positioning Indian products that meet international food standards in the global market.

"Halal products appeal to a broader consumer base, supporting our country's economy and promoting a sustainable food industry."

He also clarified that contrary to what has been alleged in the complaint and in sections of the news media, halal-certifying bodies do not run a parallel food quality certifying system. 'That's the role of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). Our role is to look into the products and verify whether the products and their source are halal or not halal,' he added.

He further mentioned that most of the products his company certifies as halal are for the export market.

Halal Industry
Philippines eyes additional 'halal champions' to strengthen profile

Philippines is looking at creating additional halal champions in the country to shore up its regional profile.  

Secretary of Philippines' department of trade and industry (DTI) Alfredo Pascual eyes more 'halal champions' to direct the country towards becoming the most halal-friendly trade and investment destination in the Asia Pacific region.

'Halal champions' are enterprises or individuals that are already thriving in the halal industry both locally and globally, Pascual said at the Philippine Halal Economy Festival held this week, Philippine News Agency reported. 

These will help the country achieve its target for the local halal industry to grow to 230 billion pesos in trade and investments, generating 120,000 jobs over the next five years.

"Our micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, or MSMEs, is also one of our halal champions. MSMEs are poised to reap significant benefits as we take substantial steps toward their growth in size, scope, and income," the DTI chief said.

The government has enacted laws that will make the Philippines a more investor-friendly country, including Muslims investors around the world. These injunctions include the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Law, as well as the amendments to the Foreign Investment Act, Public Service Act and Retail Trade Liberalization Act, he added. 

"These laws give more incentives to Muslim investors from around the world, as we invite them to establish and operate their halal enterprises here in the Philippines."

The Philippine Halal Industry Development Plan, a national strategy to reach its trade and investment as well as jobs creation targets, is expected to be announced soon. 

Halal Industry
Turkiye to host World Halal Summit, OIC Halal Expo

Turkiye is set to host the 9th World Halal Summit and the 10th Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Halal Expo later this month. 

The two events, which are to take place in Istanbul between November 23-26, are expected to host 500 exhibitors from 40 countries, with more than 40,000 visitors. 

"The [halal] market is expected to reach $10 trillion in the next five years. Our expo sees the participation of important companies in the field of food, food technology, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and modest fashion every year," said Yunus Ete, the head of the World Halal Summit Council, according to a Daily Sabah report. 

"This year, there is also significant demand from sectors related to Islamic finance and halal tourism." 

Ete noted Türkiye has accelerated its search for alternative markets. "Türkiye, which exports to 197 countries, is increasing its per-unit export income and is also focusing on alternative items. In this context, the halal market represents one of the biggest potentials."

"According to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Halal Economy Report, Türkiye, Indonesia and Malaysia have managed to become among the top 20 exporters in halal economy products," he stated.

Muslim countries' expenditures on food surpassed $1.07 trillion in 2022, and is expected to reach $1.5 trillion by 2026, the head noted. 

"This growth presents a strong opportunity window in production, investment and export among OIC countries. There is high consumer demand for healthy, halal and organic food products."

Halal Industry
Halal food companies courting non-Muslims to pay big dividends

Halal food producers can boost profitability by appealing to consumers beyond their primary market, but complacency and limited marketing efforts are standing in the way.

The halal food sector has traditionally catered to a specific segment, which is the ever-growing Muslim population. While some producers have gained ground among non-Muslim consumers in recent years, the majority remain within their comfort zone.

With people increasingly exploring other cultures and flavors, and as they seek food that’s better for them and the planet, there’s an opportunity to extend halal food’s reach to consumers who are not influenced by religious beliefs.

“Intrinsically, inherently, the halal industry can grow, and it can grow exponentially and penetrate the mainstream food industry,” Sheikh Bilal Khan, a UK-based arbitrator, Shariah scholar, and Islamic finance expert, tells Salaam Gateway.

“This is the best time in history for that, because people are looking at healthier lifestyles, organic food, ethical practices, sustainability, and social impact. So, we can capture all of that.”

Common ground

Finding common threads that resonate with non-Muslim consumers is one way to broaden the appeal of halal food. This particularly applies to consumers who are motivated by the purity and humanity Islamic brands are considered to have.

“Whenever you want to branch out, you always have to look at what the commonalities are. The common thing between halal and this [secondary] market could be the organic nature of our food,” says Khan. 

In the Western world, organic does not necessarily cover all elements of the supply chain. Whereas in halal food, the entire value chain, from income to packaging, has to be ethically aligned. Islam also associates halal with tayyeb (wholesome and pure), an increasingly important element in the era of ultra-processed food.

Holistic ethical values

According to Jalel Aossey, president of Islamic Services of America (ISA), consumers are already choosing for their money brands and food products they deem more tayyab when reviewing claims on different food products.

“These claims are just one aspect of how consumers decide where to focus their attention in purchasing tayyab food.”

Another aspect of appealing to the tayyab-focused consumer in fast-growing societies is to be cautious of class-based divisions, adds Aossey.

In many parts of the world, organic food is seen as a luxury for the wealthy. Such products are produced in a specific manner, and thus command higher prices that are outside the range of the average consumer. This is neither just nor ethical.

On the other hand, in food deserts - areas of society where low-demographic communities have limited access to healthy or tayyab food - people end up living on inexpensive, highly processed, and nutritionally void food.

As a result, they are more vulnerable to health and wellness issues. 

By promoting the underlying principles of halal and tayyab food, which are embodied in welfare, health protection, and social justice, the market can appeal to people who are ethically minded. 

“These are concepts we need to showcase much more, so that the world at large comes to appreciate the ethicality and morality of what we're doing,” says Khan.

Marketing approaches

Halal food producers can capitalize on the growing trend of healthier food, which is another common link that could resonate with the wider community.

“We are now amongst a generation that is very health conscious,” says Omar Subedar, chief operations officer at Halal Monitoring Authority (HMA), Canada. 

“In Colombia, they have a beautiful system where they mark consumer packaged goods on the front of the package in a big circle as high salt, high sugar, high trans-fats, artificial sweeteners, among others, if a serving exceeds the daily recommended amount.”

This enables consumers to make informed purchasing decisions and is different from the nutritional table typically found on the back of a food item. 

“With halal, it should be the opposite, such as halal with low sugar, low salt, no trans-fats, etc. This will make halal synonymous with healthy and make it more appealing to the secondary market,” notes Subedar.

“Here in Canada, we have seen this secondary market grow significantly because of the positive perception people have developed about halal, and the price point.”

According to HMA, the Canadian halal market is expected to reach $1.5 billion in value by 2023, up from $1 billion a decade ago.

Meanwhile, communicating values of halal food needs to be done without technical jargon that may confuse non-Muslims or make them averse to such products.

For instance, when explaining Islamic concepts, halal food producers often use Arabic terminology foreign to non-Muslims, leaving them confused or suggesting that the product is solely for Muslims.

“If we unpackaged ‘halal’ and presented it in laymen terms, it could appeal to more people. That’s why we need to use the tools, languages, and platforms that are attractive to people,” says Khan.

“Find out what the buzzwords are now and incorporate them into halal food marketing and then in search engines. They'll be picked up and come up as a main result or as a by-product of somebody's search.”

More than halal labels 

In the grand scheme of things, halal food remains niche, with demand mostly coming from Muslim consumers. 

According to Khan, complacency is one of the issues hindering growth of many halal food companies. “They have become complacent because they are happy with their profitability and income streams; they’re not interested in growing.”

To leverage secondary halal markets, companies need to put in more effort into marketing for a more diversified group of consumers.  

“Just creating a product and putting a halal label on it isn’t going to sell itself to wider communities. We need to do some marketing around it. That could be getting a non-Muslim person to model halal food and eat it. Invite them, tell them to write a piece about it, or interview a famous non-Muslim person, and ask how they found it.”

Adding other guarantees can also help halal food products stand out and thrive among non-Muslims. 

“Halal certification as it evolves, is already shaping consumer acceptance outside of its Muslim base. Non-Muslim consumers feel a greater sense of trust and oversight along with other forms of certification meaningful to them,” explains Aossey.

Numi Organic Team, for example, a US-based brand certified by ISA, is also certified organic, kosher, non-GMO, and Fair Trade, and emphasizes that its packaging is recyclable and compostable. 

Another company that has gained broad appeal is Saffron Road, which produces ethically sourced halal food inspired by flavors from around the world. Nearly 85% of the American brand’s consumers are non-Muslim but are drawn to its authenticity and clean labels. 

The company’s halal products are certified by the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA) and many of them are also certified kosher, vegan, vegetarian, organic, gluten-free, and non-GMO. 

Novelty seeking

From a timeout and entertainment perspective, novelty-seeking is driving non-Muslim foodies and tourists to explore new cuisines, including halal. 

A study of 311 non-Muslim tourists’ halal food experiences found that novelty and taste were the two main motivations for tasting halal food whilst traveling.

Most of the food experiences took place in restaurants, followed by hotels and street-side eateries.

“Right now, the world is opening to other tastes. We’re living in multicultural, globally integrated societies where tastebuds and palates of people are changing. When people go out for a meal in the evening, they don't just go to eat; it’s an experience,” says Khan.

“Halal food is something that will be appealing, because Middle Eastern and South Asian food is 90% halal. If they realize this cuisine is actually halal food, they’re signing up to that as well.”

Halal Industry
Saudi shores up cooperation in halal certification with Indonesia, Singapore

Saudi Arabia has inked cooperation agreements with halal certification bodies as the kingdom look to facilitate cross-border halal products trade and beef up expertise in key areas. 

The Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Indonesia’s Halal Product Assurance Organizing Body (BPJPH) and the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore on the mutual recognition of halal certificates and to discuss cooperation opportunities in halal product quality assurance.

The preliminary agreements aims to develop procedures for conformity assessment, standard specifications, and technical regulations for issuing halal certificates. It will also ensure mutual recognition for exported local products, and knowledge exchange in areas of training, research, and laboratory analysis for halal products, Saudi Press Agency reported. 

"With the signed mutual recognition agreement (MRA), we can acknowledge halal certificate(s) issued by each country. It will boost trade (export) especially for certain halal goods during the Hajj season needed by Saudi citizens as well as ours who perform Hajj and Umrah there," Muhammad Aqil Irham, head of Indonesia’s BPJPH tells Salaam Gateway. 

“Aside from Saudi, we have also signed agreements with Malaysia, Iran, Turkey and soon will sign with the Majlis Ugama Islam Singapore, Brunei, Thailand, Korea and China"

SFDA CEO Hisham bin Saad Aljadhey added that the authority works on implementing a unified system for bodies issuing halal certificates worldwide. 

The latest pacts are the latest in a string of agreements signed by the authority.

Cooperation agreements with the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM) and the Moroccan Standards Institute (IMANOR) of the Ministry of Industry, Trade, Green and Digital Economy on mutual recognition of halal certificates, were also inked.

“Indicators suggest that the global Islamic economy is experiencing promising opportunities and that [its] volume is growing significantly," Aljadhey stated.

The Saudi Halal Center, which represents SFDA, is one of the initiatives of the National Transformation Program. 

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