'There is a market for an international halal brand'
(MENAFN - Gulf Times) One of the main pillars of the Islamic economy, the halal food market, is in rapid expansion mode. Key factors contributing to this market growth is the increase in the Muslim population, more research and development in halal product innovations, as well as investments across the entire value chain and better access to Islamic finance options for halal food production.
The halal food sector has also spread widely to non-Muslim countries, namely in Europe and America.

Gulf Times talked to Dr Muhammad Munir Chaudry, president, chairman and co-founder of the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America, or IFANCA, one of the world's leading platforms for halal consumers that also acts as an established halal certification body for the American market.
Dr Chaudry was a panellist at the Global Islamic Economy Summit 2015 held in Dubai last week.
Gulf Times: What is the current size of the halal food industry worldwide?
Dr Chaudry: Thomson Reuters and DinarStandard [a US-based research firm focusing on the Islamic economy] have estimated the global Muslim expenditure on halal food to be 1.3tn in 2013, and the expenditures are increasing at a rate of over 10% annually. That is probably a conservative estimate as many non-Muslims also enjoy the wholesomeness of halal food products. By 2019, it is expected that Muslim expenditures on food will be 21% of the global spending on food.

Where do you see the biggest growth potential?
Growth will be balanced among the populations, but on a percentage basis, we will likely see higher growth rates in regions where economic conditions show the biggest improvements. That is likely to be in today's less affluent areas in Africa and South Asia. As far as the market segments are concerned, again we expect balanced growth with opportunities for higher growth in ingredients, nutritional supplements and food services; the latter due to increased attention to halal in the travel industry.

How can conventional food industries tap this potential at best?
Tapping into the halal industry is not much different than tapping into any new market. Newcomers need to study the marketplace, understand the requirements, develop a market strategy, partner with a reputable halal certifying body and execute the strategy. The challenge for global marketing would be to understand the different standards in different regions and finding the right halal certifying body that can help guide them through the different standards.

Is there a market for an international halal food brand?
Absolutely. With today's mobility, consumers want to find products they trust wherever they happen to be. A global brand makes that easy. Whether it is a global halal restaurant chain, hotel chain, or even frozen food, a global halal brand will afford halal consumers peace of mind. And halal consumers are generally loyal to brands that comply with their needs.

How can halal food certification be streamlined internationally?
That is the big question! It takes two things: a global standard or a set of global standards and a centralised accrediting organisation. While the halal economy has been struggling with this for a number of years, there has been progress and we hope to see something emerge in the years ahead. The industry, consumers and regulators want to see this happen. It is just a matter of coming together to work out the details
Source: MENAFN - Gulf Times