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Occasionally, we do receive messages from our followers and newsletter subscribers, asking for advise on their particular situation that is associated with halal. Here’s one of the questions received in our inbox last month. Names have been changed to protect the identity of the questioner.
Assalamu’alaikum Halal Food Hunt. My name is Ismail. I took over a Japanese Food Stall at a mall. We are listed as “Non Halal” because we are not Halal Certified which is pretty insulting.
Chicken and beef supplier from the previous owner was already from Halal Certified supplier. There was no Pork sold. Aside from the Mirin and Sake (Which I do not use), My cutleries were already changed.
Some of the other products for example like the Japanese Curry Paste (Brand Java Curry), Hondashi powder, Shoyu, base on my understanding from what I’ve read on their ingredients list have no ingredients that is alarming. What do you suggest that I may be more convincing to my Muslim customers that they are Halal to be consumed although not Halal certified? Please advice
Before I advise on the marketing aspect of your question, I would like to advise on the ingredients used.
As a halal consultant who has prior worked on the halal certifications end of things, I recommend that the ingredients you mentioned should be halal certified, because they are ingredients which have been processed. I haven’t researched enough on the other 2 products, but let’s just use Shoyu for example here.
On Japanese Shoyu:
A halal auditor will require that the Shoyu (Japanese Soya Sauce) to be halal certified. Even though the ingredients list shows nothing alarming (Ingredients: water, soybeans, wheat, salt) , the process of making Shoyu using these 4 ingredients will involve fermentation (or brewing), which makes the Shoyu non-halal due to the alcohol content that exists in the end product. This alcohol content is not mentioned in the ingredients list nor in the nutritional labels on the Shoyu, and therefore this product will not come off as alarming to a regular muslim purchaser.
Same goes to the other ingredients. Some level of research on the production process of these ingredients is advised if you intend to use them while they are not halal certified.
With regards to your question: What do you suggest that I may be more convincing to my Muslim customers that they are Halal to be consumed although not Halal certified? Here are my suggestions for you.
Advise on reaching the halal consumer market:
(1) LABELS – If there’s a ‘non-halal’ classification/label on your store, I suggest it be covered or removed. You don’t exactly need to have a label that says that you a muslim owned, this information just needs to be spread in the local population in your area. It would also be recommended that you are present for the first few months of operation so that muslim visitors can see that a muslim is operating the stall.
(2) Reach the muslim population – If you see a muslim person walking by your stall, have a conversation with them and introduce yourself. You will be very surprised at how supportive the muslim community can be if you sell food that they really like (so ask them for feedback! News of good food usually spreads like wildfire)
(3) Run your story on local media – Look for opportunities to be featured. Find the editors of publishing and marketing brands, ask if there’s any opportunity to include you in their next story.
I hope my suggestions have been helpful. All the best to you!
Asking questions is one of the best ways to learn about something you thought you knew really well, but perhaps didn’t. I had my fair share of assuming something was halal, and eventually I was corrected by a muslim convert about the item that was in discussion.. and that Item was tea.
I will be sharing about the halal assumptions for tea in my next few articles, too! In the meantime, a quick version of the halal concerns for tea will be shared on my Instagram Stories (and later highlights) so follow me at @halalfoodhunt over on Instagram!