Monday, January 26, 2015
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, 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
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
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
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
The Midamar controversy
Mechanical versus manual slaughter
Fragmented and haphazard
Thursday, November 20, 2014
Monday, November 17, 2014
Halal Research Council is pleased to offer “Post Graduate Diploma in Halal Industry”. This program is highly structured, interactive and innovatively designed distance learning program with an interactive methodology taught under the supervision of Halal industrial experts, Shariah scholars and technical professionals of various national and international universities, research and technical Institutes and Government agencies.
After the completion of courses, the students will have a comprehensive understanding about the concepts of Halal mechanism and certification of Halal and the prospects of Halal knowledge.
Thursday, November 13, 2014
Ongoing developments include certification, accreditation and standard setting
Halal food sector across the globe will need to be integrated through uniform standards. This was endorsed by food experts at the 9th Dubai International Food safety conference on Tuesday.
“The halal food sector is poised for significant growth over the next five years. Current estimates suggest that the global halal food segment is worth around $667 billion and accounts for around 20 per cent of the global food trade,” said Khalid Sheriff, director food control department at Dubai Municipality. “Such huge amounts of foods require applying uniform and harmonised standards and regulations.”
Khalid was speaking at the second Halal Food Symposium. He stressed on how the Halal food industry will soon be the turning point in Dubai’s economic development.
“As Dubai aims to be the ‘capital of the Islamic economy’ in two years, many initiatives are being prepared at the federal and local levels to cater for the need to establish laws and regulations related to halal foods.”
The initiatives range from updating existing standards to drafting new ones to fill any legislative gap, and to harmonise regulations globally.
The ongoing developments in the halal food business include certification, accreditation and standard setting.
Representatives of various regulatory and statutory bodies from all around the world, especially Islamic countries and the countries that export foods to Islamic countries were among the participants, in addition to international organizations and private institutions.
Amir Sakic, Halal food expert, Agency for Halal Quality Certification, Islamic Community – Bosnia and Herzegovina, spoke about how to tackle the issues in halal food business, trends and experiences, while Dr Abdallah Belal Adam, Leader of Halal Meat Research Group, University of HAIL- Kingdom Of Saudi Arabia, shed light on the halal meat authenticity, new analytic methods in differentiation between halal and non-halal meat.
Monday, November 10, 2014
Friday, October 31, 2014
Increased trade with the Middle East and South East Asia means Halal certification is a booming business in Australia.
The sector is projected to be worth $1.6 trillion worldwide by 2050, and Australian food exporters are racing to get into the market.
I think Australia is quite proud of its ability to produce Halal meat to international requirements, while doing it in a humane way.
JON CONDON, JOURNALIST
Halal food has been prepared according to Islamic law, and is free from pork products, alcohol and certain other ingredients. A variety of Islamic groups are involved in Halal certification, with companies who wish their products to carry a Halal label paying fees for inspection and certification.
According to beef industry journalist Jon Condon, Halal certification is widespread in Australia and can be a big money earner for meat processors.
'What it means is when the various body parts are divided up it gives those export meat works the flexibility to sell certain items, including meat cuts and offal, into Halal markets.'
'In some cases, it can be the highest paying markets, so it's all part of finding the optimum market for each individual item.'
Mr Condon says Australia has a good reputation in terms of its ability to meet Halal requirements.
'We are able to sell Halal certified products into the Middle East, South East Asia and other communities around the world.'
'I think Australia is quite proud of its ability to produce Halal meat to international requirements, while doing it in a humane way.'
This certification process has angered a small number of consumers, however. Kirralie Smith is the founder of Halal Choices and does not support Halal labelling. Ms Smith and other anti-Halal activists claim certification fees are being directed to mosques which aim to impose Sharia law in Australia. She says her objections are not about racism, however.
'There are companies wanting to make a lot of money out of it,' says Ms Smith.
'A lot of these companies are just paying the certification because they don't want the hassle.'
Dr Muhammad Khan, the CEO of Halal Australia, says there is nothing wrong with money from Halal certification going to mosques.
'It is absolutely not necessary to talk about this subject matter,' he says.
'Don't [Kosher certification organizations] fund their own synagogues? Why can't the Islamic certification body give donations to mosque projects?'
Mr Khan says accusations of secrecy are misguided, and the Halal certification process is helping the Australian economy grow.
The Byron Bay Cookie Company, which has been certified Halal for 10 years, recently became the target of anti-Halal campaigners, who objected to the company's Anzac biscuits carrying the Halal label.
'It hasn't been easy, we've had a lot of calls and emails that have been quite aggressive where we have had to ask the police to step in,' the company's CEO, Keith Byrne, told ABC News.
'We as an iconic brand have been targeted but ultimately if people look at any major producer will typically have Halal depending on the countries they supply too.'
Like meat processors who say Halal is no different to certification for grain-fed and grass-fed cattle, Mr Byrne compares Halal to gluten-free labelling.
'The Halal company that certifies us is based in Sydney, they come and they audit us and then they go away again, they don't bless our foods, they don't bless our site, there's no religious context to it, they check our hygiene and they check that there's no alcohol there.'
What is Halal?
Halal is an Arabic word meaning lawful or permitted. In reference to food, it is the dietary standard, as prescribed in the Koran.
By official definition, Halal foods are those that are:
1. Free from any component that Muslims are prohibited from consuming according to Islamic law.
2. Processed, made, produced, manufactured and/or stored using utensils, equipment and/or machinery that have been cleansed according to Islamic law.
All foods are considered Halal except the following:
-Alcoholic drinks and intoxicants
-Non-Halal animal fat
-Enzymes (microbial enzymes are permissible)
-Gelatin from non-Halal source (fish gelatin is Halal)
-L-cysteine (if from human hair)
-Lipase (only animal lipase need be avoided)
-Non-Halal animal shortening
-Unspecified meat broth
-Rennet (All forms should be avoided except for plant, microbial and synthetic rennet, as well as rennet obtained from Halal slaughtered animals)
-Stock (mixed species broth or meat stock)
-Tallow (non-Halal species)
-Carnivorous animals, birds of prey and certain other animals
-Foods contaminated with any of the above products
Thursday, October 23, 2014
The Post Graduate Diploma in Halal Industry is intended to impart the comprehensive knowledge on Halal Industry in its true sense and concept to the people which are either related or not to the Halal Industry or even from the other professions.
The purpose of this diploma is to equip the graduates with the Shariah principles on Halal Industry fulfilling the global needs of human resources and to produce well equipped professionals with the accurate learning of Halal and Certification concepts.
The aim of the diploma is to provide educational facilities and training to people who cannot leave their homes or offices/jobs or to facilitate to the masses for their learning uplift under Halal Industry.
The course serves the society by providing affordable and accessible learning through a quality technical and technology support. Distance learning to the people around the globe will be provided disseminating the useful knowledge on the Halal Industry, acquiring professional skills for the development of new products and ethical disposition.
This course consists of four modules and each module is of 2 months duration. Each Module builds up on knowledge from the previous one. You will be evaluated by subjective as well as multiple choice question on each lesson. Modules are sent by post which includes the introductory material set.
Your course Material consists of:
· Literature & Presentations in PDF format
· Video CD’s & Power Point Presentations
· Solved and unsolved case studies.
· Books in PDF format, List of references Book and related websites.
The introductory material set includes comprehensive Power Point Presentations, literature on the topic, useful web links, magazine & newspapers, articles and conference papers on Islamic banking and finance as well as recommended reading list. Students also utilize the Knowledge Centre section of AlHuda CIBE website (www.halalrc.org). The next module material is sent after the successful completion of the previous module. The course content of the first module will be sent by courier while the other course content will be sent by email.
This diploma would be of 8 months which will consist of 4 Modules and each module would consist of 2 courses.
In first Module, concepts of Halal and General Guidance about Halal Food would be taught whereas Role of Food Ingredients and Halal Slaughtering in second Module, prospective of Halal Industry worldwide and Halal banking in third Module and Halal Standardization and prospective of Halal Industry in developed Area will be taught in fourth module.
It should be clear that Halal Food Industry is flourishing at a very rapid pace and its volume has reached to 2.3 Trillion Dollars. It is expected that this diploma would provide strong pillars to Halal Food industry on practical bases.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
The Halal food market is expected to be worth US$1.6 trillion globally by 2018. With an average growth rate of 6.9 percent a year, it’s a sector that cannot be ignored, especially by food manufacturers keen to make their mark internationally.
While many manufacturers may question the value of gaining certification in Australia, where the Muslim community represents a relatively small proportion of the nation’s population, those companies looking to broaden their horizon beyond Australia’s shores would be well versed in the importance of meeting Halal criteria.
What is Halal?
Derived from the Koran, Islam’s book of faith, the word ‘Halal’ literally means ‘lawful’ or ‘acceptable’.
Dr Muhammad Khan, chief executive officer at Halal Australia, a certification and accreditation company, told Food mag the best way to understand what Halal is, is to understand what Halal is not.
“As a general rule of thumb, everything is Halal except what has been described as not Halal.
“’Haram’ means ‘prohibited’ or ‘unlawful’, so products like swine or pork and its bi-products, and animals which are not properly slaughtered or they die before slaughtering, are not accepted as Halal. So the blood is prohibited. Obviously alcoholic drinks and intoxicants are also not Halal; carnivorous animals such as lions, tigers and monkeys are not Halal, and certain other animals like scorpions, snakes and things like that - they are not Halal.
“However, when it comes to processed foods, if it is contaminated with any of the products that I’ve mentioned, or their derivatives, including emulsifiers like 471 or 472, and also gelatin, they are not Halal,” Khan says.
Certification is about ensuring these ingredients aren't included in the manufacture of food products, and haven’t contaminated the manufacturing process in some way, for example, by being used on the same production line as non-Halal products or ingredients.
With Halal certification being more about what isn't included in the product than what is, a product could be deemed Halal without the manufacturer even realizing or intending it to be. However, if that product is – or one day could be – destined for an export market, certification is worth considering, if not essential.
Why gain certification?
Similar to organic and kosher certification, Halal certification guarantees Muslim consumers that the product has been grown/reared, processed and manufactured in a certain way.
Dalene Wray, general manager at OBE Organic, a certified organic and Halal producer and exporter of beef, says certification allows companies to access new markets around the world.
“From a manufacturing point of view, it gives the manufacturer or the producer of the product more opportunities for sales of their product globally, if its Halal certified.
“There are markets around the world that you can’t export to unless you have Halal certification. So those would include the Middle East, Indonesia, Malaysia and to some extent Singapore. However, what we’ve found is that our Halal certification is advantageous to all markets we export to around the world, even though to clear customs you don’t need it.
“For example the US. We don’t need Halal certification to clear the US government customs, however we’ve found that the end users of our product in retail in America are Muslim consumers and they want our product to be Halal certified,” Wray says.
She adds that certification allows OBE Organic to capitalize on the Australian government’s efforts to build relationships with certain export markets.
“We can take advantage of a lot of the activities that the federal and state government is doing to build relationships in those markets … and also we’ve got the Queensland government doing trade visits to the Middle East, so [we’re] really capitalizing on a huge growth trend in opportunities in the Middle East markets.”
According to a report commissioned by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce, the global Halal market is expected to be worth US$1.6 trillion by 2018, up from US$1.1 trillion in 2013. Halal food made up 16.6 percent of the total world food market in 2013, and by 2018 this is expected to rise to 17.4 percent.
The Muslim population represents roughly 23 percent of the global community – or 1.8 billion people - and is growing at a rate of about three percent per annum, says Halal Australia’s Mohammed Khan.
But certification isn't all about servicing Muslim consumers or benefiting export markets; Australians – regardless of their faith or background – can benefit from the growing Halal market too, he says.
“A lot of companies are happy to seek certification because they see it as adding value to the company, something that bring a lot of money and that also can increase the employability of Australians. Companies can sell a lot more products than they would normally sell [if they’re Halal] and that obviously increases the demand for employment.
“It’s a win/win situation for everybody. Even if one person is employed by a company, and that person is a bread winner and either he or she can support their family in the Halal way – Halal means in a lawful way – it’s good.”
Spreading the word
Gaining certification is only one half of the equation, says Lisa Mabe, founder of Hewar Social Communications, a PR consultancy specializing in the global speciality food market.
“If you make the effort and spend time and money to earn certification, why would you not target the very people who are looking for that certification?” she says.
Mabe told Food mag that manufacturers exporting to regions with Muslim populations tend to focus on their relationships with retailers rather than the end users. They’re relying on distributors in foreign markets to market the product’s certification on the manufacturer’s behalf, but the message often doesn't get through, she says.
“In terms of reaching consumers, I don’t see many products doing much at all … I really think there’s a lack of understanding of the potential of those markets,” she says.
OBE Organic is a client of Mabe’s, and is one of few Australian brands to actively promote its Halal certification both here and abroad. The company even has a separate Facebook page dedicated to targeting Muslim consumers.
“A lot of business that we do is private label, which means that the retailer puts their own label on the product, and they may or may not choose to identify the product as Halal certified. Our job then is a little more difficult, and we have to articulate that message through our marketing, which is mostly done through social media,” Wray says.
“So we have a dedicated Facebook page just for marketing to Muslim consumers. We don’t know of any other food or beef company in Australia that has two Facebook pages: one for marketing to the world and one specifically for communicating with and sharing content that’s relevant to Muslim consumers.”
Content includes recipes, conversations about the Islamic holy month, Ramadan, and discussions regarding festivals celebrated in Middle Eastern communities.
Wray agrees with Maybe that Australian manufactures which have gained certification aren't promoting it as effectively as they could, or should.
“OBE is one of the few companies in Australia that is leveraging and marketing the fact that our product is Halal. We make a big deal of it; it’s all over our homepage,” she says. “There are not many other companies around the world that can produce certified organic beef that’s also Halal certified.
“I don’t know if I could even count the number [of brands] on one hand that actively promote the fact that their product is Halal,” she says.
Mabe came to Australia from the US about 18 months ago, and was surprised by the number of brands that had certification, however very few of them were communicating it to consumers.
“It’s a missed opportunity,” she says, especially considering Australia already has a reputation overseas for being a clean, safe food manufacturer.
Put the trust that this ‘clean and green’ reputation creates together with the reassurance that certification provides to a growing, potentially lucrative demographic, and Australian manufacturers are in an enviable position.
“[Muslim consumers] trust that if it’s from Australia, it’s safe. With its reputation of producing clean and safe food, Australia is in a unique position to not only participate in, but also lead in the Halal food market,” Maybe says.