India: Intertek responds to Indian Halal demand

India has more than 175 million Muslim people but still does not have access to many Halal products from reputed brands, prompting Intertek to expand its services in India to include Halal certification of food products.

Intertek India Pvt Ltd, the fully owned subsidiary of Intertek Inc, already has certification and testing capabilities in India for various sectors including the food sector, according to Madhumita Guha, country marketing head for Intertek India.

“The market share of Halal products in India is nominal at present, but it is going to grow very fast because of its strict norms of hygiene and safety aspects that will be attractive to more informed Indians,” she said.

Globally, food manufacturers like Nestle and even retailers like McDonald’s, KFC and Pizza Hut are responding to what is already a US$500 bin-a-year Halal industry, said Guha, and they are bound to turn their attention to the Indian Muslim populace.

According to Guha, Intertek is the first food services provider accepted by the International Halal Integrity Alliance, a global Halal authority, as a company authorised to offer Halal certification services.

“Since Halal certification is a combination of Shariah law and food safety, Intertek will be the technical partner and take care of all the food safety standards, while the religious requirements will be audited by our partners Halal India as per Shariah laws,” she added.

Accordingly, the Halal certificate will not be issued by Intertek but the Halal certification body, said Guha.

Guha pointed out that Intertek already has the required certification and testing capabilities in India to be able to easily accommodate this new offering.

“The Food Lab at Gurgaon is capable of testing the food products as per Halal standards except the meat species identification test which will be incorporated into the lab capabilities by the end of next year,” she said.

According to Guha, the market for Halal certification will extend beyond Indian shores, given that Halal foods are preferred by the Muslim communities across Asia in countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and almost all of the Middle East.

“These countries have a high demand for Halal certificated food products and India is a preferred trading partner for these countries when it comes to food products, thereby expanding the scope of our service,” said Guha.

“In addition, because of its stricter hygienic standards, Halal food products are now being embraced by people from other faiths in the region,” she added.