Bakers Journal

An underserved market

August 18, 2011
By Ehsan Sairally

The world is experiencing tremendous change in terms of consumer demographics and market demand for halal foods.

The world is experiencing tremendous change in terms of consumer demographics and market demand for halal foods.

This growing demand presents new market opportunities for food producers and marketers. Canada is a country blessed with an abundance of clean water, clean air and rich agricultural soils. Hence, the country’s agri-food sector has the ability to supply the growing global market with halal-compliant raw materials, ingredients and processed foods, as well as halal technology and know-how. 

The demand for halal consumer products is rapidly increasing, growing at a rate of 2.9 per cent worldwide each year – greater than the growth rate of the world population. Currently there are approximately 1.6 billion halal consumers around the globe.


The current value of the global halal market is estimated at $600 billion per year; the Canadian market for halal products is worth an estimated $1 billion per year.

This presents tremendous economic potential for traditional food industry sectors, including the meat, dairy, grain, oilseed, fruit and vegetable sectors, as well as beverage makers.

It also presents opportunities for nutrient supplements, pharmaceutical and cosmetic producers. Halal encompasses all types of foods; it is not restricted to meat products.

Halal / Haram
These are two Arabic words. Halal means permissible/allowed and haram means prohibited/unlawful. The standards for halal are based on the Holy Qu’ran, the religious book for mankind. Halal originates from the Qu’ran, where it says “O mankind Eat from that which is lawful and pure on earth” (2: 168).

The concepts of halal and haram are extremely important in all spheres of Muslim life, be they moral, spiritual, medical, biological, and all dietary aspects.

Therefore, the halal concept is not applicable to food only. It covers the non-food segment too; for instance, cosmetics, materials, packaging, equipment, sanitation and cleaning solutions.

As a rule of thumb, everything is halal except:

  • Alcohol/drugs/intoxicants
  • Blood
  • Carnivorous animals or birds of prey
  • Dead animals (birds that died naturally)
  • Swine and its byproducts
  • Animals slaughtered without ritual blessing, not mentioning the word God

However, halal is a global concept of food that is “Tayyib,” meaning wholesome, pure, nutritious, and safe. Therefore, the key element that will drive the halal food concept, is the basic understanding of halal and its implication. This potential market is underserved.

It is generally understood that, because of natural land resource capacity, non-Muslim countries are well poised to address the needs of the expanding global halal market. Canada is a good example of a country that has the resources to address that market. Canada’s advantages in supplying the global halal market include:

  • High agricultural land resource capacity, as well as abundant water and clean air
  • Well-developed agriculture and food sectors
  • Sustainable production processes
  • Established food safety and regulatory systems
  • Well-developed infrastructure (i.e., highways and rail lines for transportation)
  • A reputation as a strategic, reliable trading partner

Halal food production is not complicated. Mainstream food processors in Canada may find that halal compliance requires minimal adjustments to their current practices. In fact, many processors – particularly those dealing in non-meat products – may already be compliant and may need only to be certified.

Certification by a food-science-based agency is the key to consumer acceptance of halal foods. Like any other business decision, going halal must satisfy the quality needs of halal consumers as well as the business needs of the producer. It has to be a win-win situation. Certification includes several steps, including submitting a list of your ingredients, having your ingredients, raw materials, processing techniques and sanitation reviewed, and if all goes well and a contract is agreed upon you can be certified and use a recognized symbol that will provide trust and credibility with your customers. Certifications of any kind require dialouge and a diligent commitment, so it is wise to investigate the full breadth of what will be required of your products and systems to earn halal certification.

Muslim and non-Muslim consumers worldwide are interested in natural, healthy foods and beverages, as part of a healthy lifestyle. That’s exactly what the halal concept is all about: eat what is good and wholesome for your soul.

The halal food concept focuses on improved nutrition, food safety, healthy lifestyles, eco-friendly products and sustainable production methods. Halal covers all aspects of the food supply chain, from farm to fork.

As the halal market picks up momentum, it will gain recognition as a benchmark for healthy and safe food and production practices.

Ehsan Sairally is president of Halal Product Development Services. The company provides Halal Certification services and audits for the Canadian agri-food industry, and has expertise in processing, formulation, logistics and market trends, with respect to halal products. For more information, visit .

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