Natural Foods Merchandiser

Tapping into the $170 billion Muslim-American market with Halal certification

When Bob Burke, principal and founder of the Natural Products Consulting Institute, pinpoints what he thinks could be a profitable new product trend, we at Nutrition Business Journal take note. Over the years, we’ve looked to the former Stonyfield Farm sales and marketing executive as one of our go-to natural product trend spotters, and during our most recent interview, Burke pointed out what he thinks could become hot product trends for 2009. Among that list was Halal certification, which verifies that food or other products were processed according to Islamic law.

Seventy percent of Muslims around the world follow Halal food standards, according to a December 2007 Progressive Grocer article, and this number is expected to rise as more people convert to and are born into what is now the fastest-growing religion in the world. A story in the March 2008 issue of the Halal Journal estimated that the global Halal food market, which is currently worth an estimated $580 billion, will grow 7 percent annually.

The number of Halal-certified foods is obviously much smaller in the United States than it is in other countries with larger Muslim populations. But a growing number of U.S. companies are attempting to tap into the estimated $170 billion of purchasing power that Muslim-Americans currently represent. Wal-Mart, for example, recently opened a store in Dearborn, Mich., to cater to the area’s large community of Middle Eastern shoppers. Along with kusa, batenjan and other fresh produce often used in Middle Eastern dishes, the store features a walled-off butcher’s case devoted to Halal meats, Newsweek recently reported.

Just how the natural products industry is responding to the growing demand for Halal-certified foods and products will be something I’ll be looking for while cruising the halls and tradeshow floors at Natural Products Expo West. NBJ has been hearing more about supplement manufacturers and suppliers such as BI Nutraceuticals and Renaissance Herbs creating Halal-certified facilities, but we’re interested to see which packaged food companies are embracing this trend.

If you want to hear more of Bob Burke’s and NBJ’s 2009 natural product and trend picks, check out the NBJ’s State of the Industry panel at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 5, in room 204AB in the Anaheim Convention Center.

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