ASSALAAMU ALAIKUM WA RAHMATULLAH Alhamdulillah was-salatu was-salaamu 'ala rasoolillah. All thanks and praise is to ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta'ala, and we ask that HIS blessings and peace be upon HIS Messenger, Muhammad, salla ALLAHu alaihi wa sallam.
Consider this: Quick, France's second biggest fast-food retailer, has 362 restaurants all over the country. As of September 2010, 22 of them will offer halal-only menu's. Yes, it's not even ten percent of the total number of Quick restaurants but can we imagine that same percentage of McDonald's or Burger King's going halal in the USA this year?
The Quick chain chose its 22 restaurants based on which ones oversold fish burgers (fish is naturally halal) relative to average national sales for the product. The other factors were pin-pointing outlets where pork product sales were slow, and as importantly, knowing which outlets saw a drop in business during Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting.
The Quick decision to embrace halal is purely economic. "First and foremost, I'm an entrepreneur and a business owner. My goal is to increase sales and satisfy my clients. It's clear I have clients that I am satisfying more since we went Halal," said one franchisee, Eric Azan, speaking to DW-World.De. Azan has converted one of his six Quick franchises in Montreuil to a halal-only establishment. Sales doubled on average here, during the test phase. With 20 new full-time staffers, hired specifically to handle the extra business, Azan is all set to greet halal consumers with a smile.
France's second largest supermarket chain, Casino, too has learned that it can pad its bottom line if it offers halal products. For months now, spicy ready-to-eat chicken wings, halal pate, and mock ham made from turkey have graced its shelves. Casino's own halal product line goes by the brand name Wasilla. In fledgling efforts, some US grocery chains have recently begun carrying a limited number of halal products.
"Five and a half billion euros are going to be spent on these kinds of products this year in France," said Abbas Bendali, the head of Solis, a market research firm specialized in ethnic niches, in an interview with DW-World.De. "There are five million potential customers. So this is more than a niche, this is a real consumer segment."
The Night Orient, a non-alcoholic champagne by another French company, was sweetened during its test-run to better suit halal palates. Now in four retail chains the drink, which is intended to mark festive occasions, is sold in a bottle that resembles a Champagne bottle. "IFANCA does not certify such products. When there are so many options out there that are permissible, why certify or endorse the consumption of a product that so closely resembles an Islamically prohibited item? This is a really wrong trend," says Dr. Chaudry. Islamically speaking, one's intention is part of the reason for the choices we make. So what really is our intention when we consume a drink that's intended to imitate alcohol? It's a slippery slope. Given that many Muslims would agree and stay clear of items that mimic Islamically prohibited or haram products such as alcohol, whether Night Orient is here to stay remains to be seen.
If France is waking up to serve its five million halal consumers, despite the xenophobia there, American marketers definitely must be aware that there are 9 million US halal consumers who, too, could set cash registers ringing. I remember Burger King's billboards in Chicago, proudly proclaiming the BK's Country Pork Sandwich, in May 2010. The ads served as yet another reminder as to why I didn't frequent the place: I really, really didn't want to have a fish sandwich that was cooked in the same fryer as bacon. The billboard reinforced my belief that here was a kitchen where cross-contamination was quite possible.
Given that the average annual household income of a Muslim family is $75,000, perhaps products that cater to the American Halal Consumer could reignite the US economy? Is that so outlandish an idea given the recent activities by Gate Gourmet, Quick, Casino or Oligvy Mather, the global advertising agency that recently created Oligvy Noor, a division dedicated to Halal branding and advertising?
IFANCA welcomes Nadia Durrani who joined the organization as a Food Technologist, and will examine ingredients used in food products, to validate whether they are halal or not. Her goals include educating companies and consumers alike about food ingredients that are permissible in Islam. She believes that working for IFANCA allows her to gain professional experience as she fulfills a religious obligation.
Nadia Durrani received her Bachelors of Science in Nutrition from Benedictine University in May 2009. She has also worked with St. Alexius Medical Center for the past four years in the Nutrition Services Department. She has volunteered for a local mosque with their administrative duties and performs community service by creating diet plans for the elderly based on their medical conditions.
IFANCA Celebrates Eid with Staffers and Their Families
IFANCA hosted an inaugural Eid party for staffers, their families and the community, at its recently purchased property, Sabeel Center, at 8800 W. Ballard Rd. in unincorporated Maine Township, Illinois. The facility is being remodeled to house a community center and a library, and will be used to host interfaith activities for all and any members of the neighborhood.
As reported in the local press, Dr. Chaudry said, "Some of our programs are for everybody. The library and reading room is for the whole area. Anybody who walks in can utilize that. The basis of our organization really is, right from the start, non-denominational." Although Islam is at the heart of both the center and IFANCA itself, the building will not be used for regular worship, the report added. While it is not a mosque, night prayers were scheduled here during Ramadan, which ended on September 10, 2010.
IFANCA Board, Staffers Donate over $15,400 to Pakistan’s Flood Victims
Death and destruction following the July floods in Pakistan have been deemed worse than the combined catastrophes that were Katrina, the Tsunami and the 2005 Earthquake in Kashmir, Pakistan, according to CNN. While the international community's response was lethargic during the initial weeks of the flooding, the halal community was abuzz with efforts to raise funds to help the victims. IFANCA and its employees donated $15,400 to the IFANCA Relief Fund which in turn channeled 100 percent of the donations to organizations on the front lines of flood rescue and rehabilitation efforts in Pakistan.
"Natural disasters are tests – both for the victims and those physically removed from it," said Dr. Farhat Quadri, IFANCA's Director of Community Service. "The victims undoubtedly have challenges but we, too, will be held accountable for the actions we took, or didn't take, to help our brothers and sisters in their time of despair." The IFANCA Relief Fund was just one of the many fundraising efforts for flood victims towards which staffers and the IFANCA Board contributed donations. To donate via Paypal, visit www.sabeelpantry.org, click on "Donate" and mention "Floods" to earmark your donations.
IFANCA Preparing for Annual Thanksgiving Turkey Drive for Chicago’s Needy
IFANCA is gearing up once again to participate in the 10th Annual Thanksgiving Turkey Drive sponsored by Sabeel Food Pantry and AMAL (American Muslims for Activism and Learning). Last year, over 600 Turkeys were distributed to needy families at Emmett Till Academy (formerly McCosh Elementary School) on 65th and Champlain in Chicago and to families in Marquette Park.
"…The Muslim community of Chicago has risen to a need every autumn - to help those who are less fortunate than ourselves celebrate Thanksgiving, the national holiday that all Americans regardless of faith share in celebration. Together, we have given thousands of turkeys over these years to families who would otherwise go without," said Dr. Jihad Soshara, AMAL Board Member.
Besides co-sponsoring the drive, Sabeel Food Pantry, an IFANCA operation at 3031 W. Belmont Ave. has served the community since 2003. With the help of community volunteers, the pantry coordinates and distributes the turkeys. Sabeel is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization in the state of Illinois; all contributions are tax deductible. To donate via paypal, visit www.sabeelpantry.org, click on "Donate" and mention "Thanksgiving Turkey Drive" to earmark your donations. If you have questions, please feel free to contact Dr. Farhat Quadri at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Islamic Food Council of Europe (IFCE), an IFANCA sister organization, headed by Prof. Dr. Mohamed Sadek Nazardin celebrated its 10th anniversary in a rather unusual way. The Brussels based organization will now be known as the Halal Food Council of Europe (HFCE). The organization, whose 250 plus clients include Fermenich, DSM Nutritionals, International Flavor and Fragrance and other top tier companies, will continue to provide the expertise and professionalism that IFCE is reputed for, said Dr. Sadek Nazardin. "From what began as very humble beginnings HFCE has grown into a million dollar organization thanks to the trust our clients have placed in us. They have been and will always remain our number one priority. It's a new name with the same, efficient customer service our clients have come to count on," he added.
American Muslim Consumer Conference Expected to Draw Large Numbers
The second annual American Muslim Consumer Conference (AMCC) is scheduled for Saturday, October 30st, 2010 in New Brunswick, NJ.
Researchers, entrepreneurs, marketing and advertising executives from corporate America will convene to discuss and explore the rapidly growing and untapped American-Muslim Consumer: scope, trends and opportunities. This conference will provide American businesses and executives with useful insights, information and opportunities on how to access and attract the American-Muslim market. IFANCA will be represented by Dr. Muhammad Munir Chaudry, President, as one of the panelists.
"Muslims want to be acknowledged in mainstream media….consider advertising in a Muslim media outlet. Say Eid Mubarak or Ramadan Kareem during the holidays. The Muslim community will respond. When we see an ad we like we send it to our friends and share it with each other," said Mohammed Abdullah, director of the event.
Entrepreneur Magazine said American Muslims have the buying power roughly equal to the state of Indiana. However, "reaching them requires an understanding of their culture, beliefs and preferences. Muslims are more interested than most Americans in seeing advertising that acknowledges them," it says. Muslims are a neglected market with huge potential for brands who are willing to connect with them online and offline.
AMCC Objectives including creating awareness as to the American Muslim Market, its purchasing power and understanding scope, trends, opportunities and ways to effectively market products and services.
Entrepreneurs and companies who are interested in reaching the American-Muslim market as well as researchers and executives looking to learn about the American-Muslin market will be in attendance. The Who's Who list of attendees include confirmed speakers, James A. Kocsi, District Director, U. S. Small Business Administration, P. Miles Young CEO, Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, Steven Pilchak, General Manager, Best Buy, and others.
Gate Gourmet Makes Halal a Staple Across Nations and Borders
The airwaves are crackling with some halal breaking news and Gategroup's Gate Gourmet division is responsible for it. The world's largest independent aviation caterer is looking to have most of its meals be halal. The decision is made on economics, said Guy Dubois, chief executive of Swiss-based Gategroup. So while menu's won't necessarily have to change, the recipes will be tweaked to be alcohol free and meat products will come from a halal source.
The change seems only natural. Asia and the Middle East do have relatively larger populations than the West and catering to their needs, will help capture a larger slice of the market.
According to the Financial Times, "My aim is to make our large hub operations halal compliant," said Guy Dubois, chief executive of Swiss-based Gategroup. Its first dedicated halal kitchen will open soon at London's Heathrow airport.
"We are at the moment competing for some more halal business and when we make that, the scale tips," he said, adding that Gate would consult widely with existing customers such as BA and Cathay, "to just manage perceptions and manage such a transition."
Gate Gourmet clients include Delta, Cathay Pacific and British Airways. While halal consumers are ecstatic, how the airlines handle this news is yet to be seen. Alcohol, presumably, while off the ingredient list will continue to be served aboard all these flights.
American Halal Launches IFANCA Halal Certified Saffron Road, distributed by Whole Foods.
The Saffron Road brand of Indian entrees sold at Whole Foods contain only 100% Natural Ingredients and uses pasture raised, humanely treated livestock with a guarantee of 100% vegetarian feed and no hormones. Saffron Roads' mission is to offer All Natural halal certified foods which are also holistic, sustainably farmed, and antibiotic free. American HalalCo. markets All Natural Halal Certified food under the Saffron Road brand which was launched in Ramadan and sells its products into select natural, specialty, and gourmet retail channels in U.S.
Adnan Durrani leads the company as "Chief Halal Officer". Mr. Durrani is a serial entrepreneur having founded Vermont Pure Spring Water and was the principal financial partner for Stonyfield Farms Inc. The rest of the Company's management and Board represent a team of proven entrepreneurs at building premium food brands.
"We are blessed to have IFANCA on board as our halal certification agency. IFANCA's standards, professionalism, integrity,and acceptance worldwide is unmatched. Indeed, it's no coincidence that IFANCA is the go-to halal certifier for 2,200 consumer companies. Now our line of Saffron Road halal cuisine will be in good company with major food companies like Pepsi Co.,Nestle, Kraft, etc. We feel privileged to have been awarded IFANCA’s full endorsement of our Saffron Road Indian entrees," commented Adnan Durrani, Chief Halal Officer of American Halal.
For a complete list of halal certified Saffron Road products, go to www.ifanca.org.