Whether it was due to criminal activ-
ity, negligence or greed may never
be fully revealed, and just because it
has not been discovered elsewhere
does not mean that it is not going
on. The combination of a tough
economic climate and increasingly
complicated supply chain means that
the integrity of our foods is being
increasingly compromised.
For the practitioners in the halal food
sector, and for the Muslim consumers
around the world, this is a troubling
situation, but it is also one that opens
up an interesting possibility. In the
same way that the economic crisis,
triggered by usury banking practices,
offered an opportunity for Islamic
Finance to demonstrate its superiority,
the crisis in the food industry offers
an opportunity for all of us in the
halal camp to demonstrate that the
parameters of halal and
a way to safeguard the quality and
purity of our food supply chains.
Not that we are quite ready to demon-
strate that. There are still too many
cracks in the regulation of the halal
supply chain to hold it up as a shin-
ing example in general. However, the
significance of the application of halal
is that it necessitates, and
provides the tools to set up, the cre-
ation of an unbroken ‘chain of trust’
from the farm to the table.
Observing the growth of the halal
food market over the past decade has
been reminiscent (for those of us who
remember the pre-digital days) of
watching a photograph develop…the
image gradually appears in greater
depth and clarity of detail. As we
watch the halal market maturing,
we can observe three specific forces
that are beginning to converge in a
way that will lead to a new phase of
growth and opportunity.
These forces are regulatory, financial
and demographic.
There is a dawning recognition that
the halal sector has to be regulated
with greater efficiency and transpar-
ency. Market forces tend to dictate
that changes in regulatory procedures
are only brought about by either force
or opportunity, both of which are now
coming into the foreground.
The process by which halal compli-
ance and food safety is monitored
is coming under increasing scrutiny
globally, and there is a growing
sense that as halal food is a sub-set
of the mainstream food industry, it
must be monitored with the same
degree of professionalism and integ-
rity as the rest of the food sector.
That is to say, the certification bod-
ies will themselves be increasingly
subject to oversight by a higher regu-
latory authority.
The way the Middle Eastern countries
monitor the halal compliance of their
vast food imports (mostly from non-
Muslim countries of origin) is going to
change in the near future. With new
halal standards and regulatory infra-
structures being developed in both
the Gulf States and in Saudi Arabia,
we can expect to see new authorities
appearing in the marketplace.
This will force exporting countries to
adopt procedures similar to those in
place in Australia and New Zealand,
where the government agencies, the
meat producers and the Islamic certi-
fication bodies all cooperate under a
government approved halal program.
The past few years have seen rumblings
in the Islamic Finance sector and an
emerging recognition that more has to
be done to actually warrant the use of
the term “Islamic.” One of the sugges-
tions is for Islamic Finance to be more
engaged with the “real economy”…and
what could be more real than food?
As the two major industries based
on Shariah compliance, the food and
finance sectors are on an inevitable
course towards convergence. The
next phase of market growth will see
The recent problems in Europe regarding the discovery of the widespread use of
horsemeat in processed food products, even in some of the biggest brand names
in the market, highlights the complex nature of the food industry supply chains.
Spring 2013
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