Halal Becomes Big Business – An Excerpt from The National, UAE, May 3, 2008

“A sign on display at the Burger King in the capital’s Al Wahda Mall answers a question more and more customers are asking. “We sell only halal products,” the sign reads. Catering to the world’s fastest growing religion of about 1.4 billion people, the rapidly growing halal industry, worth an estimated Dh7.7 trillion (US$2.1 trillion), has broadened in scope in recent years to include everything from food to Islamic fashion and textiles, as well as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and even Islamic finance.

Research conducted by Brand Union has found that 70 per cent of Muslims worldwide follow halal standards to some degree. It is therefore no surprise that the industry could easily account for 20 per cent of world trade in food products by 2025, according to the Canadian government’s Agri-Food Trade Service. However, the implementation of halal standards have suffered a major setback rooted in the global dispute over what qualifies for the designation. “There are 192 countries under the United Nations banner and there are that many variations of halal,” said Muhammed Munir Chaudry, the president of the Chicago-based Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA)…The UAE has never required businesses to label halal products. Thus, the push to adopt a global halal trademark is being received with mixed responses. “Some of the larger companies, feel like their business will suffer if they put a logo on because some other customers will not like it or they will think that before, your product was not halal,” said Dr. Chaudry. “They are afraid of a backlash”. Industry analysts say that businesses will capitalise far more from this growing industry if retailers and manufacturers put greater effort into branding and marketing their halal products.”