Assalamu Alaikum,

In the food industry, consumer trends guide what food manufacturers produce. One might say the “consumer is king” when it comes to the variety and availability of food products. Of course, consumer trends vary in different parts of the world and the multinational food companies develop and market products to each region based on their needs and preferences.

Over the years, halal preferences have been voiced by both consumers and regulators in Muslim majority countries, and the food industry has responded to those preferences. The United States food industry is a major supplier of food to the Muslim majority countries and has produced halal-certified products to meet the needs of those consumers. Yet these same halal-certified products that are being exported are not available in the United States. Why is that? Is it because American Muslims are not voicing their need for such products? Or is the food industry ignoring those requests?

There are many examples of the industry responding to consumer trends. In Canada, the industry is marketing a wide variety of halal-certified food products. Canada’s halal consumers can find the products they need in mainstream supermarkets as well as in ethnic shops. In the United Kingdom as well, a wide variety of halal-certified products are available, again in mainstream supermarkets as well as ethnic shops. In South Africa, not only are halal-certified products available in supermarkets and ethnic shops, but many restaurants serve halal products.

In the Muslim majority countries you can find Western foodservice icons serving halal products. They are so successful that local imitators have sprung up with similar names, trying to attract customers. Both are flourishing. Coming back to the United States, one has to wonder why it is generally difficult to find halal options outside of a limited number of ethnic shops and eateries. It is more puzzling when one considers the popularity of halal food with non-Muslims, as evidenced by the long lines at some of the popular halal food carts.

Consumers voice their preferences with their shopping dollars and their communications. Buying halal-certified products sends a clear message that consumers want halal products; but it doesn’t convey the foregone opportunity when the desired halal products are not available. Asking food manufacturers, food distributors, store managers, and foodservice managers to produce, market, and stock halal products helps them understand the forgone opportunity and gives them the feedback they need to produce the optimum product mix.

We are all in this together, and the system works best when we all play our roles and contribute to the process. Bon appétit!


Muhammad Munir Chaudry, president