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Halal Industry
Halal baby food brand Little Maryam taps into unmet demand

Dutch brothers launch first organic and halal baby food line in the Benelux.

 

Breda: In late 2021, halal baby food brand Little Maryam hit the shelves of 137 stores of Albert Heijn, the leading supermarket chain in Belgium and the Netherlands. Launched by brothers Mohamed and Riduan el Mourabit, Little Maryam is both halal certified and organic.

“Three years ago my son was born,” said Mohamed el Mourabit by video link from Veenendaal, a small town in the heart of the Netherlands. “As he grew older, we started making him food. But sometimes, after a busy day at work or on holiday, it is just easier to have something ready-made. It was then [that] I discovered that the shops did not offer any halal baby food.”

The two brothers discussed the idea of launching a baby food line. “I was aware of the growing trend of halal food in Dutch stores and immediately thought it was a golden opportunity,” said Riduan.

The idea was only the start of a journey that started in early 2020 and saw the Mourabit brothers spend their evenings and weekends at the kitchen table drawing up plans and tasting every possible brand of baby food on the market. They were not impressed.

“I’m convinced that when parents taste some of the baby food on the market they will ask themselves: “How on earth can I offer this to my child?” said Mohamed.

The brothers, who both have an administrative job, soon found there were no producers of halal baby food based in the European Union. “There is one major player in England and another one in Morocco,” said Riduan.

Founded in 2014 in Nottingham, For Aisha is arguably the world’s biggest halal baby food producer. The British brand illustrates the immense potential for halal baby food.

For Aisha is sold in the UK, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Singapore, France and the United Arab Emirates. In November, 2021, the brand received a £400,000 ($540,105) cash injection from the Midland Engine Investment Fund (MEIF) to further expand.  

Moroccan firm Agro-Food Industry (AFI) produces the halal baby food brand Vitameal. While it has a new factory in-line with EU standards, the brand is not yet available on European supermarket shelves.

After assessing the competition, the next step for the Mourabits was to “develop the tastes and decide how to position ourselves in the market in terms of name, logo and colours,” said Mohamed.

They decided upon bright images that showed the whole meal on the packaging. For most baby food it is common to show only the ingredients.

Little Maryam was launched last November in five combinations of vegetables, lasagna, risotto, chicken and beef.

“So far, the feedback has been great,” said Mohamed. “A lot of people told us: ‘Finally baby food that tastes good. And that is at least partly due to us using organic ingredients.”

Little Maryam is the world’s first baby food that is both halal and organically certified, according to the brothers. They add that there is growing demand for healthy food that contains less pesticides, while many consumers want to see farm animals have a better life.

With the launch of their “baby,” 2021 ended well for the Mourabit brothers, and they have further plans for the brand.

“By the end of February Little Maryam will be on the shelves of another big Dutch supermarket chain,” said Riduan. “And by the end of the year it will also be sold by a major drugstore chain. Internationally, we already sell in Belgium. Germany would be a logical next step. But in the end we want to be in any country offering us a chance, be it Malaysia or the UAE.”

© SalaamGateway.com 2021 All Rights Reserved

Halal Industry
Newswrap: Halal industry

A summary of the latest halal industry news from around the world.

 

Texas-based H-E-B to offer Crescent Foods' halal hand-cut

Crescent Foods announced a strategic partnership with Texas-based supermarket chain H-E-B to offer halal hand-cut chicken, beef, and lamb products as well as breaded, frozen offerings at Houston, Texas locations, PR newswire reported, adding that the programme is expected to quickly expand throughout Texas.

Integrated Media Tech signs 60% private equity agreement with Malaysia’s World Integrated Supply Ecosystem

Shares of Integrated Media Technology Ltd. Fell 7.1% after it signed a deal to enter the halal certification and foods market, the Wall Street Journal reported. Integrated Media signed an agreement for 60% equity interests in Malasyian firm World Integrated Supply Ecosystem Sdn Bhd which is "engaged in the business of the provision of halal certification to qualified businesses/operations, the establishment halal products supply chain, and sale of halal products." The company also plans to promote the global supply chain of halal products, Integrated Media said, according to Market Watch. Xiaodong Zhang, the chief executive of Integrated Media, was quoted as saying: "Although this is not IMTE's traditional technology investment, we see many applications in bringing this ecosystem to the new digital economy from traceability, anti-counterfeiting technology, application of Blockchain and automation."

Indonesia to issue halal certification for 10 million MSMEs

Indonesia’s Presidential Staff Office (KSP) is to work with its Halal Product Assurance Agency (BPJPH) to issue halal certifications for 10 million micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), the Indonesian News Agency reported. It said the KSP will help in conducting coordination with the Ministry of Cooperatives and SMEs and Ministry of Finance to obtain valid MSMEs' data, according to Deputy III of KSP Panutan Sulendrakusuma. According to Sulendrakusuma, data was collected for 12 million micro-businesses in 2020 and data of 12.8 million of such businesses in 2021. The halal certification programme for 10 million MSMEs is targeted for those involved in sectors that have low risk in terms of the halal aspect, such as F&B, animal slaughter services, food stalls, restaurants, hotel kitchens, food courts in malls, and e-commerce, the Indonesian News Agency said. 

Alcohol-free cosmetics to witness bumper growth by 2027

The alcohol-free cosmetics market is expected to grow during the forecast period due to a rise in product launches and approvals combined with a growing cosmetics industry, EIN Newswires reported. In November 2021, Unilever filed a patent for its antiperspirant formula that uses non-alcohol actives, plasticizers, and polymers to minimise excessive sweating, according to the report published by EIN Newswires. It said growth is expected to be strongest in the Asia-Pacific region due to a large consumer base and wider acceptance from the e-commerce sector. This is followed by the European region due to a robust fashion industry and increasing promotional activities on social media platforms, EIN noted. Major companies contributing to the global alcohol-free cosmetics market include IBA Halal Care, Amara Halal Cosmetics, Martha Tilar Group, Ecotrail Personal Care, Inika Organic, Clara International Beauty Group, Paragon Technology and Innovation, and Talent Cosmetics Ltd.

 

Halal Industry
Halal health supplements predicted to have bumper growth as demand spikes

Product sales are forecast to increase from $58 billion in 2021 to $116 billion by 2031 as supplement manufacturers see their sales double or triple.

 

Demand for halal certified nutraceuticals, from vitamins to health supplements, has surged since the COVID-19 pandemic spread around the planet, with consumers wanting to bolster their immune systems.

The global market for halal nutraceutical products is set to double over the next 10 years, according to recent research. A report from Dubai-based Future Market Insights, published last July, predicted sales of these products would increase from $58 billion in 2021 to $116 billion by 2031. The report points to the “adoption of uniform certification for halal products” as a driving force in the market.

The report said sales would be boosted by an increasing global and prosperous Muslim population, forecast to top 2.2 billion. It added that growing awareness about the quality of halal ingredients, and more lifestyle-linked health disorders (such as obesity and diabetes) will also expand sales. Islamic Services of America, a certification body, described the industry as “booming.” A focus on health care and healthy lifestyles is “becoming a trend among…millennials,” a key Muslim consumer demographic, the report said.

Demand for halal certification requests for vitamins and supplements has accelerated since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Shoeeb Riaz, operations director at The Halal Trust, an organisation which certifies products and services, based in Birmingham, UK, told Salaam Gateway.

“Most manufacturers of supplements have seen business double, or triple-digit growth,” he said, adding that the Muslim consumer in the UK “is adapting a similar cultural outlook for consumer behaviour as non-Muslim counterparts around wellbeing.”

The market, Riaz said, “is looking at a bumper couple of years with people understanding the link between vitamin deficiency and disease.” He added: “Muslim community middle classes are increasing [in size and wealth] and they have the option to go to the health store to buy supplements where historically they didn’t have sufficient income levels.”

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists and medical experts have indicated that taking vitamin D has helped people avoid suffering the worst effects of the virus with its immunity strengthening benefits – advice which has “impacted the market greatly,” a Future Insights spokesperson told Salaam Gateway. “Clinical recommendations have played a key role in impacting consumer preferences,” he said.

In the UK, Riaz said Muslim consumers are “increasingly disconnected from their historic roots where traditionally herbal remedies would have been relied on.” Thus many are turning to “products you would find in a high street health shop, such as high dose Vitamin D recommended to fight off COVID-19.” Halal lines are likely to be more attractive to such consumers.

Social media promotions will also boost growth in halal nutraceuticals, the Future Insights spokesman told Salaam Gateway. “Customer reviews are an important aspect that helps to advertise products by including authentic feedback from the target demographic,” he said.

In terms of country sales, Future Market Insights highlights the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as a potentially strong market. Indeed, it was the country anticipated to have the largest halal nutraceutical market over the forecast period. Business statistics service Statista places the country’s overall national vitamins and supplements market at a value of $59 million currently – predicted to rise with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.8% by 2025. Indonesia is also expected to be a major market given decree number 748 issued by the country’s ministry of religious affairs in July 2021 that says health supplements must be labelled halal certified or non-halal when sold in the country with a 277 million population. This rule will become mandatory by 2026 at the latest.

Indonesian “market players are scurrying to get halal certification for the products, which is boosting market demand,” noted the FI report. The law defines food supplements as containing one or more ingredients in the form of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and/or other non-plant materials (fatty acids, probiotics, prebiotics, enzymes, isolates, metabolites, synthetic compounds) which can be combined with plants.

As for the West, demand for halal nutraceutical products “will remain stagnant” across the US, Germany, the UK and other European countries, according to Future Insights researchers. They said the high production costs of halal dietary supplements and lack of acceptance or awareness of halal standards by non-Muslims in European countries “might restrict the growth” within the market. This included high costs for halal certification in Europe and the USA, given these jurisdictions’ “stringent rules” for compliance with halal certification methods. This has meant producing “halal nutraceuticals…has become an intricate task for manufacturers,” forcing them to develop “technological advancements, increasing the cost of production.”

Of course, as usual, technical innovations have helped. The development of non-gelatine gummies has helped grow the halal vitamin market, the Future Insights spokesman told Salaam Gateway. Examples of such halal vitamin gummies include products made by UK-based Chewwies, and US-based Flamingo Supplements and Noor Vitamins.

A surge in chronic disease eased by vitamin supplements, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes, “in developed economies such as North America and Europe has fuelled demand for gummy vitamins,” he added.

Other innovators have been targeting this increasingly important halal segment. In 2021, Malaysia’s Duopharma expanded its halal nutraceuticals offerings, which have had strong sales during the pandemic. The company rebranded its Vitamin C tablets brand Flavettes, emphasising attributes for skin. The company is planning to exand its export markets to the Philippines and Indonesia in the coming years, while Thailand and Vietnam are considered potential markets.

In 2020, UAE-based Blue Angel Farm announced the launch of an Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology (ESMA) approved halal multi-vitamin and mineral named Essentials, developed to target unmet vitamin and mineral needs of Muslim women. For example, some Henry Ford Health System research has indicated Muslim women in the USA may attain lower than average levels of vitamin D in Michigan state, USA, if their clothing reduces exposure to sunlight.

And in 2021, Australia-based Swisse launched halal-certified Swisse Ultivite E-Senital multivitamins in Singapore. With this new launch, the company aims to expand its portfolio of halal-certified products and increase its footprint in Muslim majority markets. It said the product is “packed with essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and herbs [and] supports energy level and mental performance and a healthy immune system.” The subsidiary of the Hong Kong-listed H&H Group will be hoping the global halal nutraceutical market will continue to display such vigour.

© SalaamGateway.com 2021 All Rights Reserved

Halal Industry
Halal and non-halal experts work to treat animals humanely – but consciousness at killing remains a concern

Stunning is becoming increasingly controversial in countries with growing Muslim populations as scientists debate whether or not pain is felt during differing slaughter processes.

 

Halal experts and animal welfare activists around the world are seeking common ground on how to keep and slaughter animals in the most humane ways possible. Halal certification systems that forbid stunning, the process by which animals are rendered unconscious before being bled out at slaughter, is becoming increasingly controversial for countries with growing Muslim populations.

Despite a European Union (EU) regulation allowing non-stun slaughter for religious reasons, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled in 2020 that member states could insist on pre-slaughter non-lethal stunning if they wished. These concerns have prompted debates on what actually is the most humane way to kill livestock, and whether pre-stunning does significantly reduce stress in animals.

Halal slaughter rules require livestock to be killed by an accurate cut of the throat with a sharp knife, which "produces minimal behavioural reactions in animals and as a result, the neck cut is not perceived as painful by the animal," wrote Javaid Aziz Awan, from the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA), and Muhammad Sohaib, from the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, in Pakistan, in a 2019 paper. The authors added this "ensures maximum bleeding and makes the animal lose consciousness within a few seconds.” (To perform this slaughtering properly, the jugular vein of the neck should be cut to drain all the blood of a live animal and the butcher must invoke Allah's name upon each slaughter. Under Islamic law and halal guidance, livestock should not see the knife nor other animals being slaughtered and should not be denied food before being slaughtered.

Many Muslims prefer slaughter practice without pre-stunning: “We believe our Prophet believes this is the least pain to inflict on the animal,” said Mustafa Farouk, a senior meat scientist at AgResearch Ltd, a New Zealand government-owned livestock focused biological science and development institute. “It is very possible that the animal will not feel pain at all,” he said. A trained Muslim should undertake this work under regular monitoring by a halal competent entity, according to the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM) agency .

If a slaughterhouse has relatively small volumes of livestock, and there is no risk of animals being aware of their impending death, the method without stunning is the best if all the conditions are adhered to, Farouk said. However, for industrial processing, reversible stunning is preferred because it protects the workers and the animal, and if the animal ends up not slaughtered, it will still “live a normal animal life,” he explained.

Different interpretations

According to the interpretations of many scholars (although not necessarily halal certification systems), Muslims must treat animals kindly throughout their lives, and therefore many practices allowed in the farming system, such as cutting their ears or tails, are deemed unacceptable, Farouk told Salaam Gateway. These issues have been explored in depth by Sira Abdul Rahman, former Dean, Bangalore Veterinary College, India, in his 2017 paper “Religion and Animal Welfare—An Islamic Perspective.”

Yet the argument that slaughter by knife without stunning can be achieved without pain or stress has been challenged by some scientists. A European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) opinion on the main systems of stunning and killing the main commercial species of animals concluded that following a knife cut to the neck, rapid blood loss is felt by the conscious animal causing fear and panic. Distress is also felt when conscious animals inhale blood because of bleeding into the trachea, the EFSA said. “Without stunning, the time between cutting through the major blood vessels and insensibility, as deduced from behavioural and brain response, is up to 20 seconds in sheep, up to 25 seconds in pigs, up to 2 minutes in cattle, up to 2.5 or more minutes in poultry, and sometimes 15 minutes or more in fish,” the report added.

“Religious slaughter without stunning is responsible for major animal welfare problems,” said Peter Stevenson, chief policy advisor at the UK-based Compassion in the World Farming (CIWF) group. During the “prolonged period” between throat cutting and loss of brain responsiveness, animals can suffer extreme pain and distress, he said.

James Russell, senior-vice president at the British Veterinary Association (BVA), said that in some non-stun slaughters, animals are stunned after the cut to make sure “they are unconscious really shortly after that.” Regardless of when stunning takes place, Stevenson said “instant unconsciousness” can be achieved when performed by a properly trained slaughterman and with the correct equipment. 

In some countries, most poultry slaughter is carried out with carbon dioxide gas to induce unconsciousness. This “is not problem-free, but it is much better than the electrical water-bath,” said Russell in a reference to the process by which poultry are hung upside-down and then passed through electrified water. If not done with the right current and electrical frequency, this process can kill or only paralyse birds, which then “remain fully conscious during neck cutting,” Stevenson said.

For Farouk, the main focus should be taking proper care of the animal during its life, which he says may be more important than the question of whether an animal should be stunned at the end of its life. Reversible electric stunning, if done properly – head-only or head-to-body at a high frequency - is preferable, said Farouk. This is because with a captive bolt, “it is very unlikely that the animal will come back” to life, so in effect it has already been killed before their throats are cut.

“Animals subjected to high frequency stunning are less likely to suffer muscle contraction, muscle hemorrhages and broken bones,” according to an academic article he co-wrote in 2014. The scientist added that studies showed animals stunned with gas experience many problems, and thus their recovery “is likely to be very small.”

In another article co-written by Farouk in 2015, the scientist said that stunning is hardly a pleasant experience for livestock. If labels were clear about what they entailed, they would state stunning methods involved penetrating stunning, which cracks and penetrates the skull,or gas stunning, which puts the animal in a gas chamber. For Farouk, hand-slaughtering is better than machine-slaughter for animal welfare, even though he admits that a machine-based system “does a very good job for chicken”.

Read - European rules on butchering tighten, challenging halal sector

Abusive techniques

Regardless of the slaughtering method chosen, “if it is not done properly, any process can be abused,” he concluded. Stevenson agrees, saying many problems in Middle East slaughterhouses are unrelated to a lack of stunning, but arise from “poor pre-slaughter handling practices” particularly with large animals such as cattle and camels. He gave the example of slaughtermen “too frightened to get close enough to cattle” who “simply stab the knife into the neck.”

The activist said many Muslims were “horrified” about such abusive techniques, and that these were certainly not halal methods. The CIWF is keen to “advise halal authorities on how animals could be properly handled,” even without stunning them, Stevenson explained. Most suffering could be “addressed by proper training of slaughterhouse staff on the humane handling of animals,” regardless of the techniques used, he said. “We would be happy to advise Halal authorities on how animals could be properly handled in slaughterhouses, even if they did not wish to stun them.”

BVA’s Russell agreed that continuous training is needed. He suggested CCTVs or body cameras be installed in slaughterhouses to aid management and monitoring. The BVA has been working with halal certification bodies, he added. “We share an absolute desire to see the welfare of the animal protected” and “there is a huge common ground.”

Russell said that the captive bolt stunning applied to the head will more quickly make the animal insensitive to pain than other stunning techniques. This will increase the risk that some animals may be slaughtered while still conscious when slaughterhouses are under pressure with work.

Although studies are needed to improve techniques, Russell noted that there were no failures in stunning procedures in “99.9% of all animals slaughtered in England and Wales abattoirs” from April 2017 until March 2019. Still, improvements are necessary. One suggestion would be stunning poultry “in a way that they don’t need to be inverted” – that is hung upside-down before being gassed or electrocuted.

Avoiding animal stress

Preventing animals seeing others being stunned is “hugely challenging,” according to Russell. He recommends “human handling” and a system under which “animals would want to go in a direction” towards a slaughtering unit, without being pressured.

To avoid animal stress, the British Meat Processors Association’s (BMPA) technical operations director, David Lindars, told Salaam Gateway the solution lies in animal handling before they are stunned. “There are different ways of getting the animals to the stunning point, like the restrainer, which is designed to hold individual animals in the best way for stunning them, or in smaller plants, where they reduce what they call the stunning pen, so the animals are free moving,” Lindars said. Cattle go to a single stunning box, where high voltage or captive bolts are applied.

Lindars calls for guiding an animal into a V-restrainer, a tight-fitting box where livestock is held between the device’s -shaped sides, to avoid chasing the animal around the stunning pen, which causes stress to it. Besides, the V-restrainer doesn’t allow the animal to see others being slaughtered, Lindars explained. “The animal doesn’t know it is going to be stunned, and it is instant,” he said.

But there is still much to learn about animal reactions. There is no definitive scientific evidence that an animal does not feel pain whilst unconscious, according to a 2012 briefing note written for the European Parliament. “Indeed, a counter argument put forward is that stunning may only stop an animal displaying pain,” it added.

Farouk and others wrote in 2016: “Under Islamic spiritual teaching, death in humans is the point when the soul leaves the body.” But they also asked whether animals have “a soul similar to humans” or not. “How to tell when the soul exits the body and death ensues has not been critically examined from the point of industrial slaughter of livestock.”

Such issues highlight the potential conflict between science and religion over how humans legally kill animals. “For the scientist, the humaneness of a practice can likely be determined by examining an animal’s behaviour or brain activity as it occurs,” wrote Yale University Law School doctoral candidate Krislov Zachary in a 2015 paper on tolerating religious slaughter. On the other hand, “for the believer, a practice is apt to be humane insofar as it is commanded by the law God has established for humans.” 

© SalaamGateway.com 2021 All Rights Reserved

Halal Industry
Spain aims to support its growing halal tourism and food industry

$6.8 billion was spent in Spain on products associated with a Muslim lifestyle in 2019 while Spanish halal exporters also supplied $4.7 billion worth of halal-certified food, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics products to OIC countries that year.

 

Spain has been expanding its halal tourism and food sales, leveraging its geographical proximity to Muslim countries in North Africa to provide travel and accommodation services.

In the CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index 2021, Spain climbed six positions to the 16th in the top non-Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) destinations. The 2020/21 State of the Global Islamic Economy Report by DinarStandard said that in 2019, 2.77 million Muslim tourists visited the country.

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted business, but halal sector experts think Spain is well-positioned to grow its Muslim-oriented tourism and food sales. 

According to Spain’s National Statistics Institute (INE), from January until September 2021, 48,733 Moroccans visited the country, much less than the 128,468 who travelled to Spain in 2020 and the 741,855 counted in 2019. The pandemic also hit the numbers of Turkish visitors: down from 269,557 in 2019 to 62,837 in 2020 and 48,460 from January until September 2021.

Tomás Guerrero, director of the Dubai government’s Halal Trade and Marketing Centre – and a Spaniard himself – is optimistic that these numbers will grow. And alongside them, sales of halal food, cosmetics and even pharmaceuticals in Spain. There are 2.2 million Muslims living in Spain, representing approximately 4% of the population in 2020, according to the Union of Islamic Communities of Spain (UCIDE) and the Andalusian Observatory, with 42% Spanish citizens and 58% immigrants with residence and work permits, especially from Morocco. 

Muslim immigrants from Pakistan, Senegal, Algeria, Nigeria and Bangladesh are also present in significant numbers. Guerrero noted DinarStandard data that $6.8 billion was spent in Spain on products associated with a Muslim lifestyle in 2019, such as halal food, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and travel, modest apparel and clothing, as well as Muslim-focused media and recreation.

Spanish halal exporters also supplied $4.7 billion worth of halal-certified food, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics products to OIC countries that year, he said.

The figure could be higher but there is “resistance” from some companies with certified products to sell them domestically with the halal stamp for fear that they will not be bought by non-Muslim consumers and due to controversies with animal welfare activists, explained Muhammad Escudero, director of the certification department at the Halal Institute, the leading halal certification organisation in Spain.

And while he recognised that the pandemic slowed growth in Spain’s halal market, Escudero also believes sales will expand, especially food exports. Some companies are selling new halal products such as nuts, with a halal certificate, to Muslim-majority markets, for instance Spain’s Calconut SL.

Extenda, the trade promotion agency of Andalusia, where much of Spain’s tourism sector is based, replied there is no official data about exports of halal food. That said, the number of restaurants nationwide with at least one dish with certified halal meat grew from 121 in 2011 to 344 this year, levelling off during the pandemic, with 343 in 2020, compared to 340 in 2019. The numbers reflect those registered in halal restaurants and markets guide Zabihah, its founder Shahed Amanullah told Salaam Gateway. 

Amanullah anticipates a return to “robust growth,” adding that Spain is an important market not just because of its attraction to Muslim travellers and its growing population of North African descent, but also because it is ready to be a major supplier of halal meat to the rest of Europe. This is because restrictions on halal meat production, such as increased stunning requirements, have been introduced in some European countries, such as Belgium, and therefore have to import it for their large Muslim populations.

Spain does not face such problems, he said. “Spanish meat-based delicatessen products are world-renowned and halal meat producers in Spain have taken advantage of this to produce halal versions of these products. They are starting to get noticed in markets outside Spain where halal processed meat options do not include traditional European products,” Amanullah said.

The Singapore-based platform eHalal.io, with 230,000 monthly users, had an “increase of 284 percent in website traffic from last year to this year from the Spanish market,” founder Irwan Shah told Salaam Gateway. He added that most Muslim users from Spain “look for global Muslim food brands.” Around 90% of the market in Spain is composed of small retailers that sell other groceries too, and a few supermarket chains that “normally don’t promote” their limited halal products, Shah said.

Looking ahead, Madrid is working to become “one of the European capitals of reference” for emerging Muslim markets, said the director of tourism of Madrid City Council, Héctor Coronel. Madrid’s new Strategic Tourism Plan 2021-2023 “focuses on this market due to its characteristics and its growth potential,” he explained, including plans to promote more transport connectivity between Madrid and Muslim-majority countries by working with tour operators to adjust their services.

Coronel specified Saudi Arabia as “the country with the most potential” for Madrid, due to its large population and “openness to the West,” but the city council is also trying to attract tourists from the UAE, Qatar, Indonesia and Malaysia. Madrid is already promoting its Muslim patrimony, mosques, and halal services.

In the early Middle Ages what is now Spain was part of a group of Muslim states called Al-Andalus - romanticised as a golden age of tolerance and reason. With most or part of the country under Muslim rule from 711 until 1492, Spain can tap cultural dividends from its Islamic past. For instance, the Tourism Institute of Spain promotes several ‘Routes of the Heritage of Al-Andalus’ in the southern region of Andalusia to attract Muslim tourists. Part of the offering is integrating delicatessens, whose products are sold as halal souvenirs.

The Halal Institute is working with hotels and restaurants to help them meet Muslim needs, but just a few hotels have so far become halal certified (in terms of service offerings) and they were not renewed during the pandemic, said Escudero, noting it is “hard” to create “a space or hotel just for one type of clientele”.

To promote a wide range of certification, the Halal Institute is developing a “more flexible” mechanism called the ‘Authorised Halal point of sale’ to promote small companies with non-certified halal products or services or products certified by other companies. This does not necessitate certifying the company itself, which requires more costs and bureaucracy, he told Salaam Gateway.

Guerrero added that Spain can take advantage of the fact that “countries of North Africa and the Middle East import around 60% to 70%” of their food. Those emerging markets, with younger populations, increasing numbers of women working and digital natives make an enticing target for the roughly 1,000 Spanish companies who have halal certification. To him, Spain is an important player in the halal food market because it exports “a broader spectrum” of products over countries that export more in terms of volume, but with less diversity.

 

© SalaamGateway.com 2021 All Rights Reserved

Halal Industry
Halal food industry challenged with fraudulent products and certification disputes 

Following a series of scandals, industry experts call for more regulation and harmonised standardisation as new technologies emerge to combat consumer deception.

 

London – Fraud in the halal food sector is emerging as a widespread problem. A series of scandals have rocked the industry worldwide, shining a light on the difficulty of eliminating non-halal practices from increasingly large and complicated food supply chains.

In Thailand, the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry investigated a suspected widespread scam of pork coated in oxblood that was sold off as beef in the halal food markets of Bangkok in the summer of 2020. This followed analysis of dozens of samples by the Halal Science Centre at Thailand's Chulalongkorn University. More than a year after the allegations surfaced, no convictions have been reported, however livestock and consumer protection officials have since pledged to increase monitoring of food quality and sourcing and to investigate anyone suspected of violating laws controlling the slaughter of animals or the certification of meat for sale. Under Thai law, offenders could face imprisonment of up to one year and a fine not exceeding Thai Baht THB100,000 ($3,000).

In Malaysia, a cartel was accused in December 2020 by anonymous whistle-blowers speaking to Malay-language daily Sinar Harian of allegedly bribing customs officials for 40 years to import frozen meat (including kangaroo and horse meat, although these claims were subsequently played down by the Malaysian government) from China, Ukraine, Brazil and Argentina. It was declared as halal but was not slaughtered according to Islamic customs or sourced from approved stakeholders before being repackaged as halal beef. Three executives of Syarikat LY Frozen Food Sdn Bhd, the company implicated in alleged fraud, were subsequently charged with money laundering offences and violations of trade descriptions legislation. The trial continues and an arrest warrant has been issued for a fourth executive, who remains at large.

Other high profile examples have included the conviction in 2015 of the owner of a US-based meat exporter, Midamar, found guilty of fraudulently misrepresenting beef sold to Malaysia and Indonesia as halal. In Australia, whistle-blowing reports of abattoirs revealed exploitation of workers and failure to follow halal practices for poultry and other meat destined for Malaysia.

Rising demand equals more scams

According to the UK-based Halal Monitoring Committee (HMC), practices such as mislabelling and contamination have increased with growing consumption of halal products. The certification organisation was established in 2003 to uphold standards for halal food produced and sold in the UK

"There are a lot of imported products in the UK that come in from the global supply chain, the majority of which are from non-majority Muslim countries. Nobody has visibility on those products and whether they conform to the UK Muslim community's expectations," said Nadeem Adam, HMC operations director. 

Because demand for halal products outstrips supply, and because halal meat is more expensive than non-halal (due to labour, inspection and certification costs), unscrupulous suppliers have the opportunity to introduce haram products into the halal supply chain, Adam said. 

Other contributors to the problem, according to Ali Abdallah, independent scientist and halal fraud expert based in Bari, Italy, are the "multiplicity of halal standards, (and) disagreements between halal certification (and accreditation) bodies" about what constitutes halal.

This means a product that has been produced to halal standards in one country may not be considered halal by a different country. And while "these circumstances are more about consumer expectations than actual fraud," explained Adam, the grey areas they create can be exploited by scammers.

Fraud issues in the USA and UK

In the USA, where there is no federal regulation of halal food production, the certification process is performed by third-party certifiers based on differing requirements and their own interpretations of religious tenets, said Melissa McKendree, assistant professor at the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics (AFRE) at Michigan State University. McKendree is supervising a research project supported by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help the US meat industry improve halal certification and pinpoint potential anti-fraud solutions.

In the UK, much of suspected fraud occurs at the point of slaughter. HMC does not endorse any form of stunning (where the animal is rendered unconscious, by electric shock or other methods, before it is killed) as part of the slaughter process. However, HMC believes meat produced using various stunning (as well as non-halal compliant non-stunning) methods are being labelled and sold as halal in the UK.

Other non-halal practices occur further down the supply chain. In recent years, there have been reports from across the world of traces of pork DNA reportedly being found in meat (and even confectionary) products labelled as halal. Meanwhile, analysis of halal-marked poultry products has shown the water used in “pumping-up” chickens contains proteins of porcine origin.

HMC attempts to combat fraud by only certifying products that meet its halal standards. It uses a patented certification mark, distinct from the generic halal 'logo' (the word ‘halal’ written in Arabic and presented as a symbol), that its more than 1,000 member shops, butchers and takeaways display as a sign to consumers that their products conform to HMC's ‘farm to fork’ halal criteria.

But while such measures may help consumers make informed decisions about what to buy, they do little to tackle malpractice.

Challenges to curbing fraud

A major barrier to stamping out fraud is the difficulty of enforcing halal standards.  The problem arises in non-majority Muslim countries like the US, where the sector is not legally regulated and halal and non-halal supply chains have many opportunities to merge, according to Kelsey Hopkins, who is leading the AFRE research project into halal meat production. 

HMC similarly admits that in the UK, where halal meat makes up approximately 7% (according to HMC estimates) of the country’s combined beef, lamb and chicken supply, it does not have the power to take action when there is suspected crossover with the overwhelming majority of non-halal meat.

"The UK does not have a halal standard, so if somebody suspected that a store was selling something that was not halal-compliant, there is very little we can do," Adam said. 

In countries without halal food regulations, the industry usually has to rely on other consumer protection and trading standards legislation to prosecute anyone suspected of fraud or misrepresentation. "EU countries actually contain all the instruments required to resolve most of these problems," said Abdallah. He also notes the existence of "ethical/moral fraud," where products which do not require halal certification, such as olive oil, are labelled halal to take advantage of gullible consumers. This is different from "legal fraud" where a product is misrepresented, he said.

But legal halal food fraud is extremely difficult to detect, due to the challenge of testing products and inspecting practices at every stage of intricate and increasingly international supply chains.

Fraud issues in Muslim majority countries

Even in Muslim majority countries, where the halal food sector is typically regulated and governments have powers to take enforcement measures against fraudulent producers and retailers, fraud is still a major issue.

In Malaysia, responsibility for halal certification is governed by the Halal Hub Division, a special department set up by the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM). It is an offence in Malaysia to label products as halal without authorisation from JAKIM, and accredited enforcement agencies are authorised to suspend or revoke business licences of those who misuse or falsify halal certifications. Those found to have breached the rules may be prosecuted.

But the recent revelations about a long standing fraud cartel shows that regulations are only as good as their implementation. Media reports at the time the scandal was discovered linked JAKIM officials to the corrupt practices (although this was denied by the authority) and Abdallah cites the "weakness of the authorities in ensuring the integrity of halal certification, and involvement with politics and religion" as factors undermining the successful policing of halal food standards. 

In recognition of the difficulty of policing halal food standards in a globalised world, efforts have been made to internationalise standards.

Harmonising standards

According to Abdallah, the international halal standard involving the greatest number of Muslim countries (57 in total, with a combined population of 1.6 billion) is the OIC/SMIIC 1:2011, containing the general guidelines on halal food. The SMIIC standard is a joint initiative between the Saudi Arabia-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries and the Turkey-headquartered Standards and Metrology Institute for the Islamic Countries (SMIIC).

In May 2011, this standard defined the basic requirements at any stage of the food chain, such as receiving, preparation, labelling, processing, packaging control, transport, distribution, storage and service of halal food based on Sharia rules.

Other attempts to harmonise the halal market include the efforts of the World Halal Food Council (WHFC) and the International Halal Accreditation Forum (IHAF).

Technology to the rescue?

To support these standards, technology is increasingly seen as the key to detecting and stamping out halal food fraud.

Following the December 2020 cartel scandal, Malaysia's JAKIM announced plans to improve the recognition of foreign halal certification bodies by adding on-pack QR codes and digitising halal certificates to reduce the risk of duplication.

A team at China's Sichuan University is evaluating a DNA sequencing technology known as clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) to replace unreliable protein testing and expensive quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) DNA testing in food authentication.

Elsewhere, researchers at Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University's Halal Science Centre have developed a chromatography-based strip test that can detect DNA from forbidden meats.

In the Netherlands, researchers at Wageningen University & Research and a separate team at Iran's Islamic Azad University Tehran Science and Research Branch are investigating the possibility of using infra-red technology, which can be deployed using hand-held devices, to check meat. Also, food supply chain technology specialists, such as Singapore-based digital B2B platform OneAgrix, are introducing blockchain solutions to track meat from slaughter to the point-of-sale to the consumer.

With the mounting purchasing power of younger, larger generations of Muslim consumers, and growing competition between retailers, from supermarkets to fast food services, more attention is being paid to what influences consumer choice in the halal food sector.

One of the aims of the AFRE project at Michigan State University is to establish whether demand to know the provenance of halal products is strong enough to warrant additional investment in fraud prevention. 

"This project can help supply chain members deduce if consumer willingness to pay for halal certified foods outweighs the potential costs of adopting new traceability and verification technology to ensure proper certification,” said Hopkins.

For HMC, the issue is to do with education and awareness, rather than any question over the willingness of consumers to pay for genuine halal products. "From a consumer perspective, it's about a journey," Adam said, pointing to a July 2020 study by the UK's Bristol University that surveyed the buying behaviours of 250 Muslims and found that 70% of those questioned preferred to buy non-stunned meat. 

"When people start to think about this issue, they do some research and want to learn more about how to choose genuine halal products. We get calls from people who want to understand what the risks are, what to look out for and how to make choices that meet their expectations," he said.

© SalaamGateway.com 2021 All Rights Reserved

Halal Industry
Italy’s halal food market sees post-pandemic growth and potential

The country’s halal market is worth $5 billion and around 500 businesses have obtained halal certification, according to industry sources. 

Milan – When France’s fast-food chain O’Tacos announced in 2020 that it would be selling its halal-certified French-style meat and vegetable wraps in Italy, many Italian Muslims may have seen this move as a sign that halal was going mainstream in their country. O’Tacos’ first Italian outpost will open in January 2022 in Rome (delayed by Covid-19) and more openings in 2022 are planned in major Italian cities, including Milan and Bologna, said Yassin Baradai, founder of Milan-based Meem Communication, managing the chain’s Italian marketing campaign. 

O’Tacos is not the only Muslim-friendly food retail initiative targeting Italy’s halal consumers, in a country with an estimated 1.6 million Muslim residents. In January 2020, Baradai launched an Italian platform of e-commerce site Deenary.com, selling halal-certified foods and cosmetics, along with modest clothing. 

“The idea for the site came from the need to directly target Italy’s Muslim consumers, whose demands for certified halal products have been largely overlooked in Italy’s mass retail channels,” he said. 

Even though Italy is Europe’s third biggest economy, the domestic halal food market is still underdeveloped and operates more like a patchwork, he said, especially compared to the more mature markets in the UK, France and Germany, all of which actively cater to resident Muslim consumers. That patchwork is nonetheless already very large in the aggregate. The World Halal Authority CEO Mohamed Elkafrawy estimated that there are about 500 small-to-large sized food producers in Italy with halal certification. 

“The halal market in Italy is worth $5 billion and 80% of businesses have obtained international certification from the WHA in Italy,” he told Salaam Gateway. “These foods and companies have had the opportunity to increase their turnover by at least 20% since receiving halal certification, but many companies have far exceeded these thresholds since certification.”  

And integration of this market has been tightening, even if more progress is needed. In 2018 SmartHalal.it launched to sell halal-certified premium Italian made beef and turkey charcuterie directly to consumers across Italy, Europe and the Middle East. 

“When we began, Italian food excellence was not easily accessible to the Italian and international Islamic communities and the site’s aim was to provide Italian products of excellence that are finally certified halal,” founder and CEO Omar Vincenzo told Salaam Gateway. Business has been good during the pandemic, he said: “While we had a decline in wholesale sales, this was covered by the consistent growth in B2C sales.”

The majority of Italy’s Muslims mainly purchase Halal-certified products at the thousands of small supermarkets scattered across the country, which are largely supplied by imports from Morocco, France, Spain and Germany, Baradai said. It is harder to find Italy-made halal-certified products at major supermarkets, although this is changing, slowly, he added. 

“There are a lot of halal-certified foods that are made in Italy, but they are not given enough shelf space in large retail environments and on restaurant menus, nor are they marketed as such for lots of reasons, including very little awareness of halal principles and practices and weak commercial attention to resident Muslim consumers,” he said. “This is largely a marketing problem.”

While domestic demand for halal food is still not fully met by Italian suppliers, a growing number of Italian food producers, especially those with a strong international presence, have implemented halal certification to enter international Islamic markets, said Baradai.  

Elkafrawy said that the ‘Made in Italy’ label is already extremely well-known and appreciated abroad, therefore products with DOP, IGP, Organic and other Italian certifications not only have strong sales potential, but are already in great demand. Indeed, Italy boasts the most food products with European Union (EU)-accredited designation of origin and geographical indication labels (315 foods and 526 wines), which ensure traceability and food quality and safety standards and are expected to generate a turnover of EUR17 billion in 2021, according to industry association Federalimentare.

A growing number of these products are also certified halal. Among the first to gain halal certification were Mozzarella di Buffalo DOP in 2011 and Pecorino Toscano DOP in 2013.  

Several Italian producers have followed suit. “Certainly, among the most requested Italian made products certified by WHA are dried pasta, all types of food preserves, vinegars, olive oils, as well as dried fruit, processed meats and cheeses,” Elkafrawy said. Examples of well-known global brands that have halal certification (although not necessarily from the WHA) are Barilla, De Cecco and La Molisana (dried pasta), Mutti, La Doria and LeDue Valli (canned tomatoes and sauces), Granarolo, Parmalat and Mukki (milk and dairy products), and San Pellegrino and Ferrarelle (bottled mineral water).   

Demand for halal certification has increased further during the pandemic, said Elkafrawy, and this is “probably due to the search for more ‘flourishing’ markets than the national one,” he noted. Indeed export manager at Ferrarelle, Gaspare Magnifico Fracaro, told Salaam Gateway that all production lines are halal-compliant and Ferrarelle’s glass bottled mineral water has also become strategic for entering and further penetration of new markets, especially the fast moving, premium product seeking markets in the Middle East. 

“To date, we distribute to almost all the Gulf countries and, despite our recent entry there, we believe in the great potential of these markets, with long-term targeted market penetration strategies planned for the coming years.” 

Giovanni Moratto, owner of Italian pastry and sweets producer Dolcefreddo Moralberti, said halal certification added value and increased competitiveness, especially in global markets. 

“We already export to the Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and North African markets, and we are now looking to enter major far east markets like Malaysia and Indonesia because of their great potential.”

His company boasts 70 halal-certified pastry products – “more than any other Italian bakery and pastry manufacturer in Italy,” he told Salaam Gateway. About 70% of Moralberti’s halal sweets are sold in Italy and 30% are sold abroad. “We sell to both the food service and mass retail segments, in some of Italy’s biggest supermarket chains, like Conad, Coop and the French-owned Carrefour. It’s no surprise that our top selling halal product in Italy and across the globe is Italy’s most popular dessert - Tiramisù,” Moratto said.  

© SalaamGateway.com 2021 All Rights Reserved

Halal Industry
Croatia poised for halal industry growth

Home to the biggest Baklava factory in the EU, production of the pastry has doubled and over 100 local companies have received halal certification.

Ahead of the 2022 Halal Business Forum, which will occur from October 4-5 in Zagreb, Croatia is poised to grow its halal industry. The nation with a population of 4 million, where about 1.5 % are Muslim, became a member of the European Union in 2013 and relies heavily on tourism as an economic growth driver.

In the food industry, enterprises are looking to add halal certification to their operations to strengthen global competitiveness.

“We started halal certification in 2010,” Aldin Dugonjić told Salaam Gateway. He is the CEO of the Centre for Halal Quality Certification, which has certified 105 Croatian companies in the tourism, hospitality, and retail sectors, slaughterhouses and schools.

The Ministry of Public Administration registered the organisation as the only body to conduct halal certifications authorised by the Islamic community in Croatia.

Dugonjić sees the most significant halal growth potential in the exports of food products. “Only 60% of our production is at 100% of capacity,” Dugonjić said. “So there is a lot of opportunity to increase exports, especially with the help of good investors.”

British entrepreneurs Constantine Azar and Mehmet Halim took the leap and opened New Bakery, near the capital Zagreb, in 2014. Having invested over Euro 5 million euros ($5.67 million) and moving to new premises this year allowed the company to double its hand-made baklava production capacity from 500 tonnes to 1,000 tonnes, making New Bakery the biggest baklava factory in the EU, according its owners. 

Originating from the Balkans and the Middle East, baklava is a pastry dessert made of thin unleavened dough, filled with chopped nuts, and sweetened with syrup or honey.

“When we started, we didn't have a product, we didn't have a brand,” co-founder Azar told Salaam Gateway. Today, the brand is on the shelves of Mark & Spencers, Aldi, and Costco UK and US. The US, Africa and Europe are the manufacturer’s top three export regions. 

“We have had distributors trying to take on the brand, and offering halal products helps,” Azar said about the reason for getting halal certified. 

“We went for a promotion with Lidl, and it was for Ramadan,” Azar added, reminiscent of the beginnings. Lidl is a German international retail chain that operates over 12,000 stores across Europe and the US.

In addition to halal and kosher, the company also follows Brand Reputation through Compliance (BRC) standards. “We need to be able to trace the nut back to the field,” Azar said about the demands of this globally recognised food safety management system. 

Halal hazelnuts

Hazelnuts are the specialty of Tammy, one of the three businesses that received their halal certificates during a ceremony as part of the Halal Business Forum. In September 2021, the Centre for Halal Quality Certification organised this inaugural forum, held in Zagreb.

Established in 2020, Tammy provides hazelnut processing services and produces hazelnut oil, flour and butter. The target markets include bio-cosmetics producers, bakeries, pastry shops, restaurants and pharmaceutical companies.

For the new venture, founder Ivana Babić Čortan cultivated a 3-hectare hazelnut plantation that has been in her family for three generations. The businesswoman opted for halal certification for branding reasons. “I want my products to be more recognisable in the sea of providers,” Čortan told Salaam Gateway.

Čortan had the business certified first and only then started production. “This way, I knew I wouldn't do any false steps in administration or production itself,” Čortan said. Besides halal, Tammy obtained kosher and eco-certification. 

Čortan explained that producing according to standards is more challenging due to extra paperwork and costs, and more responsibilities towards consumers and state institutions. But she is convinced of the value it adds. “A certificate gives people an extra dose of security.”

In 2020, Nutella, a globally popular chocolate hazelnut based spread, was involved in a marketing misstep related to its halal status. When it announced the spread was not halal, people questioned whether the product contained haram ingredients. Nutella later apologised for the mistake, clarifying that the spread was suitable for halal consumption, and that 90% of production facilities were halal certified, the remainder in the process of being certified.

© SalaamGateway.com 2021 All Rights Reserved

Halal Industry
Egypt’s halal certification rules slammed by dairy industry

Industry experts report an exponential rise in the cost of certification, amounting to a “hidden import tariff”.

 

A recent Egyptian government decision that mandates all halal certification be carried out by a single state-run firm has come under fire from Western dairy producers who claim the move amounts to a punishing trade barrier.

In a joint letter, industry stakeholders from the European Union, United States, Australia and New Zealand called on their governments to urge Egypt to drop the mandate issued on 1 October, which calls for all dairy imports to be certified only by ISEG Halal.

In 2020, Egypt imported dairy products worth over $700 million, of which these four countries supplied over 83%.

According to the letter, the mandate was introduced without prior notification to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) or other detailed written guidance, creating “significant uncertainty and upheaval.” The WTO Committee on Technical Barriers received Egypt’s notification on 30 November.

“This one-sided approach corresponds to a monopolisation that doesn’t provide any added value and security for the consumer,” Björn Börgermann told Salaam Gateway. Börgermann is the excutive director of export union für Milchprodukte, an association for German milk exporters.

“The consequences are a compromised trade, resulting in a lot of additional work and costs.”

The EU is Egypt's biggest trading partner, covering 24.5% of Egypt's trade volume in 2020. Total trade in goods amounted to €24.5 billion ($27.7 billion). The dairy sector accounts for 0.3% of Egypt’s GDP. According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Egypt is a net importer of milk and beef.

Egypt appointed ISEG Halal as the sole official entity responsible for granting halal-certified status for imported products, establishing the joint-stock company in January 2020 as per Prime Ministerial Decree No. 35/2020.

The company is managed by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs and the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation as well as the General Organization for Export and Import Control, an agency of the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

Another trade ministry agency, the Egyptian Organisation for Standardisation (EOS), holds a 2% share. However, EOS won’t receive any earnings from the joint-stock company’s revenue stream.

In the past, the Ministry of Agriculture licenced halal certifiers worldwide. In 2019, Egyptian officials audited halal certifiers and slaughter facilities in the US and Brazil.

The audits raised quality concerns, Salaam Gateway reported. This matter and the desire for a unified Egyptian halal standard were the reported reasons for establishing ISEG Halal.

The ISEG website lists offices in the US, Uruguay and India. In the US, the ISEG office is based in Fort Lee, New Jersey. According to the local records, the company was already incorporated in November 2017.

The US Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) in Cairo reported that the firm had no pre-existing relationships with the US beef industry or local Islamic organisations or prior halal certification experience.

According to a local paper, the New Zealand Companies Register incorporated ISEG Halal on 1- September, registered in the US.

In the same month, New Zealand’s Ministry for Prime Industries informed the dairy industry that all global food and beverage products imported into Egypt – not just those claiming to be halal – need to have halal certification.

Cost, challenges and concerns

“We learned about the change of rules by pure chance,” Börgermann said. “It was communicated late, providing incomplete information about processes and costs.”

Dairy industry representatives argue no other market has imposed a sole source requirement that mandates the use of a single halal certifying company.

“Numerous other countries across the Middle East and Southeast Asia use dairy halal certification systems that work well and are widely used by our members as a valuable tool in helping meet customers’ religious information needs,” the bodies said in the letter addressed to their governments.

Meanwhile, companies report problems securing new import permits, and exporters worry about shipments potentially being denied market entry from mid-December.

According to a memo by the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, the cost of halal certification by ISEG Halal is $1,500 per container of dairy and $2,000 per container of meat.

“It will burn all the margins of the industry,” said Mohamed Ali, partner at consulting firm Dinar Standard (parent company of Salaam Gateway) and food practice lead. He added that the industry was already plagued by sky-rocketing shipping costs caused by the pandemic.

“Actually, it’s a hidden import tariff,” Ali said of the new charges.

Egypt and the EU signed a free trade agreement that provides preferential tariffs on EU-origin products. Negotiations about a vast free trade area started in 2013 but are currently on hold.

In the US, halal certifiers used to charge $10-$20 per metric tonne for certification. With ISEG Halal taking over, market reports indicate an increase to $220 per metric tonne, amounting to over $5,000 per container, based on a load factor of 27 metric tonnes.

In 2020, US exports of beef and beef products to Egypt fell by 26% to $57 million. Dairy products saw the largest export growth, up by 69% to $77 million.

Looking at the current setup, Dinar Standard’s Ali expressed concerns over potential conflicts of interests and recommended a halal certification eco-system that provides segregation of duty. The concept assigns various steps in a process to different entities to eliminate opportunities for fraudulent activities by having process controls in place.

Livestock is an integral part of Egypt’s agriculture, accounting for about 37.5% of the total value of agricultural production. Over 5 million cattle and buffalo generate about 6 million tonnes of milk and 0.5 million tonnes of meat per year, producing output worth $8 billion annually, reports the FAO.

With Egypt’s population expected to grow by some 50 percent from 100 to 150 million over the next 30 years, beef, poultry and fish supply will have to increase by 109%, milk by 290%, and eggs by 162% to satisfy the dietary requirements and reduce import dependence by 2050.

© SalaamGateway.com 2021 All Rights Reserved


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