The supply and demand chain of the foodservice industry is made up of manufacturers, distributors, meal providers, and final consumers. When it comes to the halal industry however, there sometimes seems to be a snag between producers and distributors. Manufacturers of halal goods, especially if they are small, may not be aware of how they can get stocked in a foodservice company’s warehouse, while distributors who can get them into restaurants, schools and nursing homes may not even know of the existence of a halal product or its manufacturers.

Don Tymchuck, President of Med-Diet, Inc., a specialty foodservice distributor, can attest to that. “There’s very little currently being offered through the broadline national and regional foodservice distributors. Based on the need for halal foods presented at the last IFANCA conference, Med-Diet is pushing hard to change that by finding halal manufacturers,” he says.

Mr. Tymchuck has been involved in the medical food business for over 30 years. For 27 years his company, has provided products and services to those on special, medical diets. Mr. Tymchuck holds several patents in the food industry. He is an author of the National Dysphagia Diet: Standardization of Optimal Care, published by the American Dietetic Association’s National Dysphagia Task Force. This publication sets down standards for the textures of foods provided to people with swallowing problems caused by traumas, such as stroke and cancer. Using his expertise in food texture, Mr. Tymchuck also designed a meal plan to help people get used to their new egg-sized “mini-stomach” after gastric bypass surgery.

He attended the IFANCA 9th International Conference in April, because several of his clients indicated their interest in serving religious meals. Mary Anne Jackson, President of J& M Foods, was one of the presenters at the conference and Mr. Tymchuck began buying her halal-certified ready-to-eat, shelf stable meals. “In the last month, we’ve placed re-orders with J&M Foods twice. It shows there’s definitely a demand and, using the IFANCA supplier directory, we’re currently working with six other manufacturers to get their products into our system,” he says.

“People like variety. What’s great about IFANCA is that they are working with the industry to get more products into the marketplace. As distributors, we can rely on the Crescent M symbol on packaging to identify a product as halal.”

Mr. Tymchuck also saw references to Halal Consumer magazine online and picked up past issues to learn more about this potential market. Those manufacturers listed by IFANCA that Med-Diet couldn’t work with were suppliers of products that had short shelf lives or needed refrigeration. “It’s a question of economics. Would the consumer be willing to pay what it would cost to ship something perishable?”


Expansion into the Halal Market

His company, which specializes in small order, direct-to-user shipping, is now looking to add more products and more clients, including universities, school systems, healthcare, and at-home users. “What we do as a company is meet the specifics of our customers’ needs. But the demand for halal products must come from the consumers, including parents if it’s a university or school. That’s how administrators learn that there’s a void that needs filling.”


Restaurants Losing Business

Halal is an emerging market that many foodservice distributors haven’t recognized. And if manufacturers don’t certify their products as halal, the distributors don’t know where to get them, when requested by a potential customer. So their salesmen don’t sell restaurants any halal products, according to Mr. Tymchuck. Alternatively, the restaurant may know there’s a demand for halal but not know where to get a halal supplier. In the end, both lose business without knowing it. “We’re going to fill that niche,” says Mr. Tymchuck.


Nursing Homes

Med-Diet works with thousands of hospitals and nursing homes. According to Mr. Tymchuck, those that don’t provide a religious meal may not even know that they’ve lost a potential client because their menu doesn’t cater to all. “Again, it comes to down to demand. Are residents and patients asking for halal meals or halal vitamins or supplements in a hospital or a nursing home? In a nursing home, an appropriate meal is one of the few comforts so it is vital to provide those.”

“We’d be willing to work with IFANCA-certified halal companies because we know what its certification implies. We don’t need to check on the authenticity of that halal claim if a product is certified by IFANCA.” IFANCA does certify several vitamins, supplements and health drinks and these would fit the bill of the kinds of products distributed by Med-Diet.


Retail Stores

Having halal jello, halal marshmallows and halal crispy treats in every mainstream grocery would be a dream come true for many a Muslim child. Would Med-Diet be willing to work with retail stores as a supplier of such halal goods?

“Definitely! As long as a grocery store is willing to get it by FedEx drop-ship. Most retail stores purchase only items that meet a certain turn around. They’re looking for the maximum sales. Our small order size requirements are just what they need to meet their customer’s demands while minimizing storage needs.” Med-Diet would also be willing to supply to individual stores or specialty stores, in areas where there is a large Muslim population. So what’s left to do? Muslim shoppers need to ask their stores and restaurants for halal products and inform them of distributors such as Med-Diet.

Med-Diet can be reached toll-free at 1-800- MED-DIET (633-3438) or online at