The scheme, run through the newly established Halal Authority Board (HAB), was jointly developed by the UK-based certification firm, Cert ID Europe and the Hijaz Group.
Estimated to be worth over US$600bn and comprising of more than 1.6 billion consumers, the global halal market is a tempting and lucrative market for manufacturers across the globe.
This halal certification scheme aims to provide clarity through a “transparent standard” for manufacturers and consumers amid a confusing and disjointed market, Jerry Houseago, business development director at Cert ID Europe, said.
“There are disparate standards and conflicting interpretations of halal and what we are trying to do is remove these issues,” Houseago told FoodNavigator.com.
“There is not just one ‘type’ of Muslim consumer – there are differing opinions within the Muslim community on what is and isn’t halal.For example, 99% of certification firms don’t accept mechanical slaughter as Halal, but 1% does,” he said.
“It’s not a homogenous market and manufacturers need to understand that,” he added.
“Manufacturers are trying to apply Halal requirements in a modern context,” Houseago said, based on the Koran and Sharia Laws which is more than 1,500 years old.
“Lots of foods and processing techniques didn’t exist” then, he added, and so producing halal foods in a modern market can sometimes be difficult.
Closer to the Muslim consumer
This scheme will address these issues as the HAB is closely connected to the Muslim consumer community Houseago explained, adding that “consumer opinions are important when understanding the halal market.”
“Previous schemes have lacked consumer insight, but this is a well-linked project,” he added.
Cert ID Europe has secured the backing of more than half of the UK’s Mosques, a backing it says places it as the “most representative and influential” halal certification body within the industry.
HAB also has a Shariah Board comprising of 13 well-known and respected Islamic scholars to represent a wide cross section of the Muslim community, Cert ID said.
The scheme has not been set up to compete against other certification systems, Houseago said, and it is hoped that it will become a part of a wider cooperative system.
However, the scheme is an improvement to other certification systems currently on the market, he said.
It uses an online input tool for manufacturers to use directly, he said, where they are required to enter descriptors and information about ingredients upfront before the site audit.
This is more efficient, as it reduces time lags often experienced when dealing with other schemes, he added.
There is a lot of interest in the market, Houseago said, especially from European exporters working with companies in Muslim consumer markets such as Turkey, the Middle-East and Malaysia.
In terms of knowledge at a manufacturing level, it is varied but overall “there probably isn’t a deep understanding beyond the basics, so there is an educational aspect”,he explained, to the scheme.
“It’s not an area you can rush into,” he added, and so within the scheme Cert ID Europe will act as the filter and communicator between manufacturers and the board, communicating ideas and requirements of both to ensure transparency.