Going global: could halal be the next kosher?
- Asian manufacturers are seeking kosher certification because they hope to gain access to markets in the US, Europe and Australia
- Those promoting expansion of halal certification hope that, like kosher, it will be recognised as symbol of quality, even by consumers not buying for religious reasons
“In an average month, we probably have six or seven rabbis visiting facilities in Asia [to certify kosher standards],” he explained.
The kosher food industry in the US has been valued at more than US$12 billion, and the global market is estimated to be worth twice as much.
Less than 2 per cent of the 329 million people in the US are Jewish, and not all Jewish Americans keep kosher. Nevertheless, more than 40 per cent of packaged food and drink sold in the US carries a kosher label.
According to London-based market research firm Mintel, more than 60 per cent of Americans who buy kosher food do so for its perceived higher quality – and more than half for its perceived healthiness. Just 15 per cent said they buy kosher for religious reasons.
Sanmik Food is an Australian-owned organic food company with manufacturing facilities in China, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Vietnam and Myanmar. Managing director Pathmalal Withanage said kosher certification was “a massive help” in increasing sales, especially in Australia and the US.
Likewise, the Islamic halal assurance has come to be regarded as a standard of quality and cleanliness, regardless of religious belief.
Wan Latiff Wan Musa, chief executive officer of Malaysia’s Foreign Trade Promotion Agency, said Malaysia’s increasingly stringent halal standards could become as globally well-regarded as kosher standards.
Those promoting the expansion of halal certification hope that, like kosher, it will be recognised as a symbol of quality, even by consumers not buying for religious reasons.
Ploy Pritsangkul is the operations manager at Thai Tai Agriculture Company in Chiang Rai, Thailand, which makes pickled and crystallised ginger.
Halal certification had helped the company across the board, Ploy said, appealing to customers in Thailand but also opening new markets in Indonesia and Malaysia, alongside its most lucrative markets in the US, Japan and Germany.
“If the product is halal, you get better shelf space in the grocery stores, and that has helped boost sales,” Ploy said. ■