By Maha El Dahan – Reuters
ABU DHABI, March 6 (Reuters) – Muslims in the Middle East will soon be able to sweeten their coffee and cakes with halal sugar guaranteed to be free from burnt animal bone powder.
Keen to tap a booming market dominated by meat slaughtered in accordance with Islamic rituals, one of India’s largest sugar sellers is bagging up halal-branded sweetener made without any powdered cow bones used by some sugar refiners.
“How can sugar be halal you might ask? It is because there is no use of animal bones in the refining or bleaching or colouring process while other companies use it,” Rajesh Vangani, the head of Warana Sugar’s Gulf operations, said.
“The idea just came when a client from Iraq contacted us six months ago asking about halal sugar.”
Some refineries filter sugar through burnt and powdered cattle bones, known as bone char, in a process that also puts some vegans off refined sugar products.
Authorities in India, a country of over a 100 million Muslims, have now issued Warana with a two year-certificate that its sugar conforms to Islamic dietary guidelines.
The Middle East arm of India’s second-largest sugar company hopes the cow bone free brand will help it bag a 25-percent share of the United Arab Emirates market by the end of 2012.
It has imported 45,000 tonnes of white sugar over the past four months into the UAE and is waiting for government approval to market it across the country.
Warana is launching the product in the UAE but plans to sweeten the rest of the Middle East over the next year.
“Our next big target is Saudi Arabia and Oman,” Vangani said. “We hope to be in that market before next Ramadan.”
Food consumption usually rises during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan as families gather to break their fast from dawn to sunset over festive meals.