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Missing the boat, Part I

Missing the boat, Part I

Countries around the world are scrambling to jump on board the hugely lucrative halal sector, except, that is, Arab countries, Part I.

June 11, 2009 8:07 by

The Halal Journal estimates at $560 million the global halal cosmetics market. UK-based Saaf Pure Skincare was initially set up “as an educational website making consumers aware of cosmetic marketing ploys and cons”, says founder Mahvash Hussain-Gambles. “Then I started creating skincare products for my family members, people with sensitive skins and those who were allergic to even ‘natural’ products. There were no halal-certified skincare products on the market at the time, and this was one of the motivations, as well as making the rest of the world aware of green business models and products.”

Since its product-oriented launch in February 2008, Saaf has established a presence via appointed distributors and/or retailers in a number of markets, including Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Sweden, the US, Canada, Greece and Cyprus.

No wonder, then, that large multinationals want in: Nestlé, which entered the market a decade ago, is now one of the most prominent halal suppliers, with annual sales of $3 billion, 75 of its 480 factories worldwide adhering to halal food requirements and a range of over 300 products. McDonald’s, KFC and Burger King have been selling halal burgers and chicken nuggets for some years. Colgate-Palmolive has launched halal toothpaste, while Australian firm Almaas has started marketing halal makeup. Supermarket chains such as Wal-Mart, Carrefour, Casino and Tesco are developing in-house halal ranges.

Such companies are aware that halal products have a strong crossover appeal to non-Muslims, because animal testing must be pain-free, some aspects of halal ritual slaughter are more ethical – animals may not be slaughtered in the presence of other animals, for example – and the meat is perceived as safer, more natural and environmentally friendly: on the whole, the animals are better treated, and have been spared disease outbreaks such as BSE and bird flu.

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1 Comment

  1. Omar Abedin on June 14, 2009 10:05 am

    It is important to make a distinction between “Halal” and “Zabiha” when it comes to food products.
    “Halal” connotes certain foods that have been decreed as OK for Muslims to consume, through the writ of the Quran. (This is as opposed to “haraam”, which term is used to describe foods that are absolutely NOT permitted for Muslims – e.g. pork, alcohol, etc.).
    “Zabiha” on the other hand is the prescribed method of preparing meats that may otherwise be halal e.g. mutton, beef etc. The techniques of “Zabiha” are described in the Hadith, the example of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The problem arises when many in the Middle East region (who subscribe only to the Quran, and not the Hadith) see no difference between the two. Technically, a beef burger sold by a chain in NY is “Halal” (provided it has no pork etc.) because it is made with beef which has been declared “halal” in the Quran. However, it is definitely not “Zabiha”, because the animal was not slaughtered in the prescribed manner i.e. slaughtered in the name of God, allowed to bleed out, etc. This is an important distinction – for details on what constitutes “Zabiha”, please contact a qualified practitioner in your area.


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