Raise halal awareness among non-Muslims

Hadi DP Mahmud


Halal food manufacturers can capture the non-Muslim market by increasing awareness on halal certification and helping consumers get to know the authorities which vest these certifications, a speaker at the 11th Asean Food Conference said yesterday.

Citing a recent study conducted to determine the demographics of
Muslim and non-Muslim consumers who purchase halal-certified products
in shopping complexes in Kota Kinabalu, Adilah Mohd Ramli, a lecturer
at Universiti Malaysia Sabah, said that although more Muslim consumers
are purchasing more halal-certified products due to religious
requirements, there are still opportunities for food manufacturers to
further capture the non-Muslim market by increasing the information
available on halal certification in the public domain.

Adilah, who conducted the study with her students across four major
shopping complexes in the city, polled about 400 people to compare
their knowledge about halal foods and get an overview of awareness
levels on the recognition of authorities responsible for overseeing
halal certification.

Her team found a significant relationship between Muslim
respondents, their perception of halal and buying tendencies, but these
were not apparent with non-Muslim respondents. The study stated that
about 72 per cent of Muslim respondents have a strong tendency towards
buying food products bearing halal logos, where about 40 per cent of
this group would spend over RM$400 ($164.4) monthly on halal-certified

Non-Muslims on average spend less that RM$100 on halal products.

Asked on the significance of the halal logo to non-Muslims, Adilah
said, “(halal-certified food) can be consumed by non-Muslims too
because the procedures and processes that halal foods go through to
ensure quality and safety are on the same level as other international
standards such as HACCP” or the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control
Point, food safety standards.

“We’re not saying that whatever is halal-certified is equivalent to
HACCP-certified products, but ideally speaking, that is what halal is
supposed to be, on the same level as HACCP standards,” she said.

“Halal is going global, and many manufacturers are not only
targeting the Muslims, but also the non-Muslims. I think we’re getting
there. More and more countries are accepting halal stamps as a token of
quality standards equivalent to internationally accepted ones such as
HACCP,” she added.

Malaysia’s Department of Islamic Development, established the
country’s national halal certification and halal logo in line with a
standard formulated as “MS 1500:2004?, where if a company or an
establishment wants to be certified with Malaysian Halal Certification,
they would need to fulfil the MS 1500:2004 as well as the MS 1480 (Food
Safety According to the HACCP System) and the MS 1514 (General
Principles on Food Hygiene).

“The halal certification and halal logo can be suggested as a
recognisable logo equivalent to HACCP and ISO 9000. However results
showed that more effort has to be carried out by the relevant
authorities to increase consumer awareness, particularly with the
non-Muslims,” Adilah said.

The Brunei Times