Halal is the description given to food that receives specific treatment, in order to comply with Islamic religion and its rules about food. They follow the Islamic laws of the Sharia, which specifies, for all stages of the food preparation process, how Halal food is to be prepared. In this article, we will look at the Halal food market in Brazil.
Market for Halal food in Brazil
As of 2010, there were officially around 35.000 Muslims in Brazil, representing a share of just 0,0002% of Brazil’s population, although the Brazilian Muslim Association claims that there are in fact more than 1,5 million Muslims in Brazil. Most Muslims in Brazil are located in the states of São Paulo, Paraná, Mato Grosso do Sul and Rio Grande do Sul. Consequently the supply and demand of Halal food in these areas is higher. Despite Halal food traditionally only being consumed by Muslims and Adventists nowadays, others looking for alternative healthy and high-quality products are among those who are now purchasing Halal food products.
How to prepare Halal in Brazil
According to the Sharia, the Muslim’s religious laws, the consumption of mineral products and toxic chemicals that may harm the Muslims’ health is prohibited, along with the consumption of all plant products that present a hallucinogenic effect.
For meat products, according to the embassies of Islamic countries in Brazil, the Halal slaughter is required to be made separate from other non-Halal slaughters, and is required to be conducted by a sane muslim, knowing the fundamentals of Halal slaughter. The slaughter of the following animals is not permitted:
- Pigs, snakes, dogs and monkeys
- Toads, frogs
- Lions, tigers, bears
- Rats, scorpions
- Falcons, eagles, owls
The following rules are the basic requirements needed to perform a Halal slaughter in accordance to the Sharia:
- Only healthy animals – approved by the sanitary authorities – can be slaughtered
- The sentence “In the name of Allah, the most gracious, the most merciful” must be said before the slaughter
- All equipment and utensils used in the slaughter should be suitable for Halal slaughter. The knife must be sharp enough to allow a single insertion, minimizing the animal’s suffering
- A Muslim inspector is required to monitor all Halal slaughters, since they are responsible for checking the procedures determined by the Sharia
The entire production chain of Halal food, including the processing, packaging, storage and transport must be exclusive to Halal meaning that products must also be certified and labeled according to the Sharia. Halal rótulos – a label containing information about the product should contain:
- Product description
- SIF number – which is the Serviço de Inspeção Federal of the Ministério da Agricultura, Pecuária e Abastecimento – an accreditation given to animal products
- Identification of manufacturer, importer/exporter and distributor
- Ingredients used
- Stamp of Halal certification
- Country of origin
In cases of primary meat products, the date of slaughter, manufacturing and processing should also be specified on the product label.
Brazilian laws for slaughtering animals require that the animal be stunned before slaughter. Despite this, religious slaughter without stunning the animal is allowed in Brazil but only for companies that supply meat for export or consumption by religious communities. Even so, specific methods are required in order to minimize the animal’s suffering and distress.
Certifying the Halal quality
In Brazil, there are three main Halal certifiers:
- Central Islâmica Brasileira de Alimentos Halal, CIBAL Halal
- Federation of Muslim Associations of Brazil, FAMBRAS
- Centro de Divulgação Islã para a América Latina, Portuguese for Center of Muslim Promotion for Latin America
There are several Halal certifications, depending on the situation of the company that requested certified Halal:
- Certificate of Halal Slaughter, issued to producers of meat
- Certificate of Qualification of Halal Refrigerator, issued to ensure that the slaughterhouse is able to produce Halal meat meeting all requirements of the Islamic religion
- Halal Certificate, issued to specific products that need to be certified as Halal
- Certificate of Qualification of Halal Industries, issued to ensure that the industry and its entire production chain meets all requirements of the Islamic religion
- Certificate of Offering Halal Food and Services, issued to restaurants, fast-food chains, hotels and airlines that meet the requirements of the Islamic religion
The Halal certification is valid for one year, and the whole process of certification may cost up to BRL 7.000.
Export of Halal food from Brazil
Despite Brazil being one of the largest Halal food producers in the world, possessing over 300 industries’ plants that are Halal certified, most of its production is exported to countries where the presence of Muslims is higher, especially to Northern Africa, the Middle East and South East Asia.
Brazil exported over USD 1,5 billion worth of Halal products in 2012, mostly poultry and meat. Brazilian exports of Halal food grew by more than 440% in revenue and 76% in volume between 2002 to 2012. In fact, in 2013 Brazil was the third largest Halal product exporter in the world, trailing only behind China and the United States, with around 33% of the total of Brazilian meat exports being Halal certified.
In 2012, around 46% of the total of Brazilian exports of poultry and meat – 1,8 million tons – was destined to markets that require the Halal certification. Also, 18,2% of all Brazilian exported bovine meat – 273.000 tons – was Halal certified. According to FAMBRAS, over 300 Brazilian companies are already exporting meat with the Halal certification.The main importers of Brazilian Halal food are:
- Egypt – importing almost 140.000 tons in 2012, accounting for USD 551,6 million
- Iran – importing over 67.000 tons in 2012, accounting for USD 320,3 million
- Saudi Arabia – importing over 36.000 tons in 2012, accounting for USD 166,7 million
- Lebanon – importing over 15.000 tons in 2012, accounting for USD 82,8 million
- Libya – importing over 18.000 tons in 2012, accounting for USD 78,8 million
The international Halal market is expected to rise, with Islamic countries posting a growth rate in population of around 5% per year. This is pretty good news for the Brazilian Halal production plant, since Brazil is responsible for the production of over 38% of Halal poultry and meat consumed in the world and being the market leader.
Compared to the regular food market, Halal products represent a very small share and thus do not justify nor need large investment from companies. Despite this, it is still a good option to bet on these niches in order to differentiate a company in the market. This is especially valid for small and medium sized companies.