From the Publisher’s Desk
Muhammad Munir Chaudry
IFANCA started halal certification exactly 25 years ago, primarily for products exported to the Middle East and South East Asia. Every major corporation produced halal versions of their products to be exported to those markets. For many years, with the exception of products made specifically for Muslims in the US military, those organizations had no interest in marketing their halal inventory to North American consumers.
Around the year 1999-2000, some smaller to mid-size companies in USA and Canada started to recognize the existence of Muslim consumers and their halal dietary requirements. Since that time, dozens of other companies including some large corporations have opted to service the halal consumer market. We are seeing ‘halal’ labeled products not only in ethnic stores but in mainstream supermarkets as well. We anticipate this trend will continue and it will not be limited to processed meat and poultry. Many more products with ‘halal’ markings will start to appear on shelves. They will include ice-cream, cereals, nutritional supplements, juices, personal care products and baked goods. One reason for the current increase in availability of halal certified products is that younger Muslim consumers have been reaching out to manufacturers of consumer goods. As they have learned, companies do listen.
During the ’70’s and ’80’s, North American Muslims could not eat cheese because most of it was made with pork enzymes. When Pfizer developed synthetic rennet for cheese, the industry started to change. Today, many brands of cheese are halal certified including Simon Country Store produced by Trega Foods, Pine River Cheese, Cabot Cheese, and Saputo Cheese – all IFANCA clients. Similarly, the use of animal fats was very common 30 years ago. Due to an increasingly health conscientious American public, manufacturers switched from animal fats to vegetable oils as an ingredient. As a result, IFANCA has been able to certify many more products as halal.
These various efforts came about due to the proactive stance taken by consumers. The rise of retail halal products, too, reflects a demand by consumers, whether it is for convenience foods such IFANCA certified Saffron Road or Med-Diet’s range of halal TV dinners or healthy desserts such as Happy and Healthy Products’ Fruitfull line of halal ice-cream fruit bars. These are exciting times in the halal industry. The next decade will be even more so, as the halal retail market continues to evolve around the needs of the North American consumer.
Muhammad Munir Chaudry