Are you stocking Halal-certified foods?

Laurie Budgar, Natural Foods Merchandiser

It’s a tough time to be a Muslim in America. Forget politics: Just finding foods produced in accordance with Islamic dietary laws outlined in the Quran is a challenge. “The number of available halal products in the U.S. is miniscule,” says Jack Acree, president of Stamford, Conn.-based American Halal Co., which manufactures Saffron Road products, one of the few lines of all-natural, certified-halal packaged foods. The demand for halal products is so great that retailers and manufacturers who carry it stand to benefit greatly, he suggests.Estimates of the number of Muslim Americans vary widely, but Acree and other informed observers peg the group at between 6 million and 8 million. Two-thirds of U.S. Muslims are under age 40, have at least a bachelor’s degree and make $50,000 a year or more, according to Allied Media Corp., an ethnic outreach and advertising firm based in Alexandria, Va.

Collectively, U.S. Muslims spend about $20 billion a year on food, says Maria Omar, spokeswoman for the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America. And they don’t spend it indiscriminately: An astonishing 97 percent of Muslim Americans say their religion influences nearly every single purchasing decision they make, according to a recent report by Ogilvy Noor, an international Islamic branding agency.

Those decisions are constrained by the market, however. IFANCA, the largest halal certifier in the world, has approved 23,000 products globally since its inception in 1982—just a fraction of the 75,000 kosher products available to America’s 6.5 million Jews.

Only 30 new halal SKUs were introduced in the U.S. in the first 11 months of 2010; 20 were launched in 2009, 11 in 2008 and five in 2007, according to Datamonitor, a market research firm based in Canandaigua, N.Y. Even though those numbers seem small, that’s 500 percent growth in four years.

Zahed Amanullah, Director, American Halal Co., will be giving a presentation on ‘Positioning Halal Values on the Retail Shelfgiving a case study on Saffron Road at the 6th World Halal Forum – 4-5 April 2011, Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. See