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
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 includes pork and 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.
The 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.
In North America, there are an estimated eight to nine million halal consumers. The United States comprises eight million-plus and in Canada there will soon be one million 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.
M. Ehsan Sairally is the president of Halal Product Development Services (HPDS). He can be reached at 416-568-1885.
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