Halal Consumer Magazine
Maria Omar is a recent addition to IFANCA’s Media Relations team. Maria will be working on increasing IFANCA-developed information to expand and enhance the visibility of halal. Other goals include making IFANCA an even more accessible resource for halal ingredients and product information through online, print and broadcast media.
Ms. Omar, a marketing and advertising professional, has expertise in public relations, media planning and buying, as well as social media marketing. She has previously interned and worked in various communication capacities at GEO Television, Insight Communications, Council of American and Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago), Dimeo & Company, The San Jose Group, Xyltus Inc., and Halal.com. Maria has a bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences from Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), and more recently, an MSC Communications degree from Northwestern University.
Asma Ahad graduated with a bachelors in Chemical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1996. Prior to graduation, she interned for the Kraft Foods Cheese Division, in Glenview, Illinois. After graduation, she joined Kraft as a full time employee as a Product and Process Developer, gaining experience in R&D and Supply Chain.
Asma also led Kraft’s Muslim Marketing initiative in which she validated the consumer’s demand for Halal products, establishing a connection between Kraft products and Muslim consumers.
Asma joined IFANCA as Director of Halal Market Development in April of this year.
Sky Radio Network provides business, technology, health and entertainment programming to some of the largest airlines in the world, including United, American, Delta, Northwest, US Airways and Virgin America. A blend of CEO interviews, industry spotlights and major business trends, each show contains a lead cover interview as well as a variety of ongoing features, spotlights and special interest topics.
Addressing the needs and interests of millions of business and leisure travelers, Sky Radio aired an interview with Dr. Muhammad Munir Chaudry, President, IFANCA, about the halal global and US market. Initially all international US Airways flights will carry the interview, as will their print in-flight magazine.
However, you need not be an airline passenger to listen to their programming. Dr. Chaudry’s interview will be rebroadcast on Sky Radio Network’s website in the ‘Now Airing’ section under the category of US Airways for a period of 1 year, after which it will be accessible in its archives and listed in alphabetical order.
According to an October 2009 Business Week report titled “Germany Wakes Up to Halal Muslim Food”, the halal trend is unstoppable. The article quotes Peter Grothues, head of the food industry segment of Cologne’s trade fair company who hosted an exhibition in October for more than 800 halal food producers, most of whom supply to Turkish corner shops in German cities. “… halal is becoming an increasingly important pillar of the trade”, says the Federal Association of German Food Retailers. Local businesses, too, have realized the worth of halal. The Meemken family produces almost 100 tons a week of a variety of sausage that follows Islamic food standards, supplying food retailers in Germany and abroad. “We’re definitely going to expand this segment”, says managing director, Rolf Meemken. “We’re registering disproportionately strong growth with halal.”
Speakers at an international conference in June 2009 in Pakistan stressed the importance of halal food certification to boost consumer’s confidence in foods and to improve sales.
The conference titled “Halal Foods and Ingredient Concerns” was held at the Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. It was organized jointly by the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA) and the Pakistan Society of Food Scientists and Technologists and attended by several food industry representatives.
Punjab Finance Minister, Mr. Tanveer Ashraf Kaira, presided over the conference. He said the country had a huge market for halal food which could be exported, adding that the country’s exports of halal goods were currently very low. He emphasized the importance of halal certification for food, urging all stakeholders, including industry, academia, and research organizations to address the issue.
Dr. Muhammad Munir Chaudry of IFANCA briefly described the history of food certification, adding that IFANCA would help Pakistan with the certification of halal foods. He said that every ingredient was important and must be certified as halal, adding that halal dietary laws were more than 1400 years old but not until very recently was there a concept of halal certification. Dr. Chaudry said there was potential for the halal market to grow as the world-wide Muslim community consisted of 1.4 billion people and global halal trade was now estimated to be $580 billion. He shed light on the pioneering role played by IFANCA in the development of the halal certification system internationally, providing halal certification in more than 55 countries.
Dr. Mian N. Riaz from the Texas A&M University’s Food Protein Research and Development Center said halal products had become very important to consumers. “For Muslim consumers, trust in halal food relates to the certainty about the process,” he said, adding that any uncertainty about this would shatter the trust that consumers placed in companies. This could have major financial consequences for the companies, he said, pointing out that consumer trust could be strengthened by obtaining halal certification. However, this should be implemented by an official, independent institution, he emphasized.
“The genuine halal logo is an authoritative, independent and reliable testimony to support halal food claims, and having a halal certification label would enhance the marketability of products in Muslim countries”, said Dr. Riaz. He mentioned that E-numbers were recently part of a controversy in Pakistan when rumors spread about the halal status of a multinational potato chips manufacturer.
He said E-numbers were systematic numerical designations for identifying food additives, adding that E-numbers by themselves were not indicators of the halal status of many ingredients. A Halal Audit Overview, as developed by IFANCA, was a more foolproof system of determining halal worthiness, he said.
IFANCA’s Community Relations Director, Dr. Farhat Quadri and Media Relations Director, Maria Omar, were interviewed on the Lincoln, NE based KZUM’s show ‘American Muslims Today’.
Radio host, Yousef Wells, had questions about IFANCA’s services and the status of halal food in America. Dr. Quadri provided both religious and technical insights and encouraged listeners to visit IFANCA’s homepage to access free halal educational literature, such as past issues of the Halal Consumer Magazine© and Halal Digest©.
The interview aired on April 15, 2010 at 6:30 PM CST and is available on the show’s archive at www.go-amt.net.
Mary Anne Jackson, an IFANCA client, and President of Deerfield Illinois based J & M Food Products Company, was quoted in an article in Army Times, discussing its My Own Meals and J & M brands of halal meals that the company has been providing for Muslim soldiers in the U.S. military since 1996. It also makes shelf-stable halal meals for grocery stores, hospitals, universities and prisons.
“For the most part, there are…halal meals in theater at all times,” responded Mary Ann Jackson. “If someone tells you there aren’t, they’re wrong. They’re in Kuwait, they’re in the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Afghanistan. They’re everywhere.”
Abdenour Moussawi, an inspector with IFANCA, supervises halal food production at J & M Foods Products Company facilities. Moussawi inspects equipment for cleanliness and supervises halal production. J & M Food Products Company purchases meat from halal butchers in California, Washington, Iowa and New Jersey, where Muslim butchers must invoke the name of God as the animals are slaughtered.