Bakers Journal

Halal – it bakes sense

April 14, 2010
By M. Ehsan Sairally


Halal – it bakes sense
We are witnessing changes in all food categories from bakery to meat,
dairy and beverage products. As the pace of development quickens, a major
concern is food safety and quality.



April 14, 2010 – As we move forward in the 21st
century, we are witnessing changes in all food categories from bakery to meat,
dairy and beverage products. As the pace of development quickens, a major
concern is food safety and quality. Today’s highly educated consumers are not
only interested in what they’re eating, but they’re interested in what’s in
their food and how it’s made. Hence, the nature and source of food ingredients
is very important.

This concern for ingredients and production
practices presents opportunities for Canadian baking sector in general as it
explores new market opportunities. One such opportunity is in the area of baked
goods for the Canadian halal market, which is significant in size and growing.


However, the food industry associates halal
with meat products, not realizing that halal also comes into play with bakery
products. What is halal’s connection with existing mainstream bakery products?
Simply put, the connection is not new items, but products that are already
being produced and sold in supermarkets across Canada. These are the starting
point for addressing the halal market.

Many existing mainstream bakery products
may already be halal-compliant or close to it. Those that already have halal
characteristics just need to be certified. Those products that are near
compliant may require an ingredient substitution (not a change) or a processing
adjustment in order to satisfy halal certification requirements.

Let’s take a quick look at what halal is
all about. The word halal has Arabic origins and refers to food and ingredients
that are “permitted” or “allowed”; conversely, the term “haram” refers to those
foods and ingredients that are not permitted. In a bakery product context the
list of “haram” ingredients is very short and excludes pork or any of its
derivatives as well as alcohol and its derivatives. In general, halal foods are
in step with current market trends (low fat, low sugar and low salt). The trend
toward natural and environmentally friendly food products resonates with halal
consumers, and application of halal ingredients into your bakery products and
system of operation will capture the attention of these people. 

They key point for the baking industry to
appreciate is that the first step into the Canadian halal market can be
accomplished with minor adjustments to existing products. Furthermore, it can be accomplished with minimum investment and
minimum adjustment. It “just bakes sense.”

In North America, there are an estimated 8
to 9 million halal consumers. The United States comprises 8 million-plus and in
Canada there will soon be 1million halal consumers. That’s a sizable market.
According to a U.S. study, the total halal purchasing power in the US is $170
billion and in Canada it’s more than $1 billion and growing. Thus, Canadian
bakeries are poised to reap the benefits of this untapped halal market. For
example, the Toronto population is made up of 10 per cent halal consumers, and
other major metropolitan areas boast significant numbers.

So, what makes this halal market
attractive? It largely reflects the increase of halal consumer households
compared to other ethnic groups. They are second- and third-generation
consumers that are integrated into Canadian society. They like mainstream foods
and are on the lookout for foods that have undergone the extra step of being
halal compliant and certified. As previously mentioned, this extra step
involves minimum adjustment and minimum investment. For the baking industry,
this is an opportunity to reach and serve the Canadian halal market. It bakes

Halal bakery product opportunities

and bread related products





snack foods

Halal marketing opportunities



food service
sector, restaurants/hotels


special events



M. Ehsan Sairally is the president of Halal Product Development Services (HPDS). He can be reached at 416-568-1885.

Please visit HPDS at Booth #1131 at
Bakery Showcase (May 16-18, 2010, International Centre, Mississauga, Ont.). For
more information, visit

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