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Journal cover: Journal of Islamic Marketing

Journal of Islamic Marketing

ISSN: 1759-0833

Online from: 2010

Subject Area: Marketing

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Charting the rise of the halal market – tales from the field and looking forward


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Article citation: Jonathan A.J. Wilson, (2012) "Charting the rise of the halal market – tales from the field and looking forward", Journal of Islamic Marketing, Vol. 3 Iss: 3, pp. -


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Article Type: Executive interview From: Journal of Islamic Marketing, Volume 3, Issue 3

Purpose – To present a real-world industry perspective on the Halal market, which sits within several industry sectors, across the globe – with the aim of capturing expert knowledge and stimulating further research areas
Methodology/approach – Iterative face-to-face and email interviews with two international key experts and conference organisers in the halal sector, over a period of eight weeks. These were supported by naturalistic observation methods at the 2012 World Halal Forum, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. A phenomenological approach was taken, which encouraged subjects to reflect longitudinally on critical moments and turning points
Findings – It is clear that the stakeholders in the Halal constitute a new kind of industry in their own right: a diverse, complex, yet integrated industry - with a global reach that crosses geographic, cultural and even religious boundaries. The Halal industry intersects and shares common values with many other industry sectors and yet it has a unique set of issues and concerns that are specific to the Halal market. In the face of these factors, the field is still relatively in its infancy – meaning that currently there are gaps in knowledge, differences in opinion and key concerns; which looking to the future need to be addressed through continuous structured debate and dialogue
Implications – Derived from the findings, it appears that the Halal sector is in need of further detailed research: across the Halal supply chain; which tackles contentious issues of legislation and Islamic jurisprudence in the modern global market; and faithfully captures the consumer experience
Originality/Value – This paper provides insight into the Halal sector across territories and sectors, which is of value to practitioners and researchers
Keywords Halal, Halal branding, Halal certification, Halal supply chain, Islamic Marketing, Muslim consumer behaviour, Islamic jurisprudence
Paper type Interview

Introduction and background rationale

With the rise in demand and conspicuousness of Muslim friendly consumerism (for which the term halal is usually understood to embody activities); debates and news concerning the growing halal sector appear frequently in mainstream media outlets. This is along with specialist trade journals – largely in the fields of: finance and banking; agriculture; fast moving consumer goods and groceries; pharmaceuticals; and employment best practice. An area worth mentioning, but which falls outside of the core rationale behind this paper, is where individuals and groups have expressed opposition to halal certified commodities; largely as a conduit for challenging the perceived sociocultural, economic, and religious rising ascendency of Muslims, in Muslim minority territories.

Having stated these, observations suggest that most news and literature on halal is instructional and factual; but where personal views are expressed in detail, they are often from religious scholars, journalists, and political pundits – and seldom from industry practitioners. It is on these, that a growing number of consumer social networkers and bloggers tend to base their own views, which it is argued poses inherent difficulties – as their information sources, through no fault of their own, may suffer from being asymmetric, polarised, and biased. Industry experts, on occasions, are offered the opportunity to provide sound bites, but the problem with this is that experts suffer from the effects of media concision – that hampers their ability to convey rich and detailed information, which would be of benefit to a range of stakeholders. To this end, the purpose of this paper is to present a real-world industry perspective on the halal market, capturing expert knowledge, which could also stimulate further research areas.

Method and approach

The 2012 World Halal Forum, in Malaysia, was used as a focal event to elicit data collection and further examination of this phenomenon, from a practitioner perspective. Internet searches found that this event, along with its associated organisations and partnerships, represented the most visible and significant in the sector. The following paper presents findings and discussions in two sections, with the aim of investigating past, current, and future developments in the global halal sector.

The first provides a detailed corporate and individual biography of the two participants interviewed. They were selected according to their: seniority, expertise, peer-standing, experience, international exposure, corporate responsibilities, and willingness to participate in the study. The biographies were held to be a significant part of the study, as they demonstrate adherence to the selection criteria; the value of the individuals’ contributions according to the stated criteria; and secondarily offer insight into the career paths and associated experiences, as possible critical success factors.

Following this, their views and responses are listed under the open-ended questions posed, in vivo. Interviews were conducted over a number of iterations, following face-to-face and email discussions, over a period of eight weeks. These were supported by naturalistic observation methods by the researcher at the 2012 World Halal Forum, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – in the interests of grounding research methods, question formulation and data analysis. A phenomenological approach was taken, which encouraged subjects to reflect longitudinally on critical moments and turning points. The final interview narratives and biographies were then presented to the subjects, with the aim of offering further opportunity to revise positions and ultimately gain subject consensus.

Corporate and individual biographies

Ms Jumaatun Azmi

Founder, World Halal Forum; MD, KaseDia; Editor/Publisher, The Halal Journal, Malaysia

Jumaatun Azmi (Juju) is the Founder and Managing Director of KasehDia, a communication and consulting company focused on the application of Islamic concepts and good ideas in a contemporary setting and style. Under her leadership, KasehDia has created game changing global forums and media products as well as provided strategic consultations for businesses and governments.

Juju is the Founder of the World Halal Forum, the most influential business forum of its kind in the world, now in its seventh year. She has consulted the Government of Malaysia in halal related matters, which was incorporated into Malaysia’s 3rd Industrial Master Plan (2006-2020). She is also a founding member of the International Halal Integrity (IHI) Alliance, a not-for profit organisation set up to create an international framework for halal standards and accreditation.

Juju is the Editor and Publisher of The Halal Journal, a magazine on the business and lifestyle related to anything Islamic and Rezeki a Malay-language entrepreneur magazine which has a heady mix of religion, entrepreneurship and entertainment. She is also the creator of the award winning Halal Food Guide series which has covered eight countries. Juju produced and co-directed her first feature film in 2011 entitle HAQ which won the Best Screenplay Award and the Malaysian Film Festival.

She is currently setting up a retail outlet named Rumi & Kohl which showcases home décor, art, furniture and fashion inspired by the rich global Muslim cultures. She is also about to release her second film named Dari Kerana Mata.

Juju is a Fellow of Asia 21, a grouping of young global leaders around the world and has been recently chosen as an Associate Fellow of Asia Society, America’s leading organisation that builds and fosters relationships between leaders in the USA and Asia. In 2007 she received the Asia Pacific Emerging Entrepreneur Award by Enterprise Asia and is one of the recipients for the Most Promising Young Entrepreneur 2008 by Malaysia Canada Business Council. Her publications have received awards from Madrid, Dubai, and the Philippines. Juju and her initiatives have been featured in The New York Times, Asia Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, Time, Forbes, Guardian UK, Bloomberg, and The Economist. Juju was also formerly a journalist with the New Straits Times and holds a Degree in Communication (Honours) from the University of Hartford, Connecticut, USA and a post-graduate diploma on Islamic Studies in the Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilisation (ISTAC).

Mr Darhim Dali Hashim

CEO, International Halal Integrity Alliance, Malaysia

Darhim Dali Hashim is the Chief Executive Officer of IHI Alliance Ltd (IHI Alliance), an international non-governmental organisation created to uphold the integrity of the halal market concept in global trade through recognition, collaboration and membership. IHI Alliance was incorporated as a company limited by guarantee in the international offshore Financial Centre of Labuan on 30 April 2007. The formation of IHI Alliance was the outcome of a resolution that was passed at the inaugural World Halal Forum in May 2006 by international delegates representing all areas of the halal industry value chain from approximately 30 countries, to form its own industry organisation. IHI Alliance is the strategic partner of the Islamic Chamber of Commerce & Industry in the implementation of the Global Halal Program, as mandated at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Summit 2008 held in Dakar, Senegal.

Darhim brings to IHI Alliance a wealth of corporate and halal industry experience. Previously he worked in various senior management positions, including leading a diversification strategy for a conglomerate into the agricultural sector. This led to an opportunity to head up an integrated livestock and halal meat operations.

He was invited to share his knowledge and experience on Halal Journal TV, Pakistan’s ATV and Business Plus channels and was interviewed for Time and Forbes magazines and most recently, The New York Times. Darhim introduced halal at various platforms including the CIES International Food Safety Conference held in Barcelona, Spain, the World Bank’s East Asia Pacific Regional Agribusiness Trade & Investment Conference in Singapore, the 18th EFLA Congress on Private Food Law in Amsterdam, The Netherlands and the Meat Industry Association Annual Conference in Christchurch, New Zealand. Darhim is a regular speaker at halal industry platforms including the World Halal Forum, Global Halal Congress in Pakistan, International Halal Conference in Iran and the Gulf Conference on Halal Industry and Services in Kuwait, among others.

In the early part of his career, he was an Audit Manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers after having completed his Chartered Accountancy qualification with Kingston Smith in London. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) Degree in Economics from the University of Bristol in England.

In vivo interview findings and discussions

Background overview of the halal sector and the call for involvement

The idea and concept for the World Halal Forum was born from our direct involvement and interaction with the players in the halal market arena. In 2004, it became increasingly clear that the stakeholders in the halal market – the producers, processors, manufacturers, logistics providers, retailers, restaurants, food service providers, and others, actually constitute a new kind of industry in their own right; a diverse, complex, yet integrated industry with a global reach that crosses geographic, cultural and even religious boundaries. The halal industry intersects and shares common values with many other industry sectors and yet it has a unique set of issues and concerns that are specific to the halal market.

It became evident that there was a need for a dedicated Halal Industry Forum that would enable the stakeholders in the halal market to gather on a regular basis. The halal market is evolving at a rapid pace, and because of its global extent, the rate and nature of this evolution differs considerably from one country to the next, and from one industry sector to the next.

Much of the impetus for the development of the halal industry comes from shifts of awareness and perception; consequently many of these developments are happening at a rapid pace and entire new industry sectors, such as in the field of logistics, research, lab testing and personal care are emerging on a continuing basis.

Consequently, the decision to stage the World Halal Forum as an industry-specific focal point came at precisely the time it was needed. Response from all quarters – government, industry players both large and small, NGO’s, certification agencies, academics – and from all corners of the world continues to confirm our assessment.

What were the driving factors for organising events?

Juju: I was already involved in the halal industry through publishing the Halal Food Guides back in 2004. The idea for these guides was inspired during a family trip to Australia where to be honest I just got tired of eating kebabs and thought to myself, surely there must be other halal food but there was no such guide available. This then led to me being involved in the set-up of the very first halal exhibition, MIHAS (Malaysian International Halal Showcase). What started as a good idea became a catalyst for a whole industry to emerge hence the need for such a platform for all the global stakeholders to be able to interact. This was the driving force behind the creation of the World Halal Forum (WHF).

Darhim: I was involved in the first WHF back in 2006. My path was rather different as I came from the industry. I was involved in the livestock and meat sector trying to set up an integrated operation from upstream to retail operations. In the process I came to learn that we as Muslims really were not in control of the halal supply chain and there was a lack of transparency in the assurance of any integrity. WHF was a great opportunity to bring all these issues to light and bring together the relevant players and experts to come up with a workable solution.

What challenges have you faced?

Juju: Initially, it was difficult to change the mindset of those in authority who were responsible for halal assurance. Halal was previously a subject confined to fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and hence only involved the ulema (Islamic scholars). It was a challenge to overcome this barrier that in fact halal affects us all and that it could in fact be an industry. Unsurprisingly, our biggest supporters were the multi-national companies and non-Muslim countries who took a pragmatic view of halal being a large and growing market. They looked to WHF for guidance and knowledge as to how to tap into this market.

Darhim: The first WHF in 2006 concluded with the formation of IHI Alliance to which the main task given was to develop a Global Halal Standard. We learnt first hand that this was a near impossible task as there was such a diverse range of opinions. In addition to the various interpretations by the fuquha (experts in Islamic jurisprudence) there were also the differences at the consumer level. Our approach was to have the scholars establish the parameters and from these we would develop a set of standards that could be applied worldwide and accommodate the various opinions.

Over this period, what have been the key issues of debate and have they changed since you’ve been running your events?

Juju: The recurring theme is always on how fragmented the industry is and the need for standardisation. As IHI Alliance works on the standardisation other issues come to light such as the lack of proper legislation even in Muslim majority countries. Previously, the events had focused primarily on the industry and business issues but we are now moving towards the needs of the consumer.

Darhim: The debate over the permissibility of stunning and mechanical slaughter are the two most favourite topics of debate! I have attended many of the other halal related events around the world and the same debate rages on. A single global standard that will be acceptable to all may not be practical as this would mean taking the strictest position, which could be cost prohibitive and maybe even impossible to implement in non-Muslim majority countries. What is more feasible is a robust system that enables consumers to make an informed choice.

What were the highlights of the 2012 event?

Juju: In line with our shift towards the consumer, this year’s WHF cast the net wider to include more lifestyle elements. We introduced creative interludes to showcase the softer side of Islam in the form of art, music and entertainment. Although these are new concepts in WHF, they are still consistent with our overall objective of conveying Islamic inspired messages and values in a contemporary manner that would be appreciated by all, both Muslims and non-Muslims.

Darhim: We also introduced some new topics such as gold as halal currency and the use of Islamic financial instruments such as Waqf and Zakat to help alleviate poverty and social problems. WHF 2012 concluded with a call to the participants to initiate projects under the WHF banner. The various movements identified include awareness on animal welfare and handling in Muslim majority countries, propagating halal pharmaceuticals through healthcare professionals, introducing labelling laws on halal (especially for Europe) and incorporating “food justice” into an Islamic Fair Trade label.

Looking forward, what areas and questions should marketing academics be researching?

Juju: The recurring statistic that kept being mentioned during WHF2012 was that 60% of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims are below the age of 30. This means that the majority of Muslim consumers are “Gen Y.” Decision-makers in government and industry are typically Gen X and even Baby-boomers so there clearly is a disconnect in terms of expectations and empathy. We need to understand this huge and growing demographic better if we are to serve their needs and preferences. The other area would be in how to market and brand halal effectively to non-Muslims.

Darhim: I would like to see research that is able to really get through to Muslim consumers’ true sentiments. Too often we see statistics based on results from face to face or telephone surveys. More often than not, respondents have a tendency to give the “right” answer as opposed to the truth. I have a hypothesis from my own empirical observation that Muslim consumers can be divided into four categories:

  1. Very compliant – willing to travel more than 1 hour to find halal food whose integrity they trust; would never set foot in a non-halal restaurant.
  2. Compliant – prefers convenience whilst adhering to halal practice, e.g. would eat in a non-halal restaurant but only order fish, seafood and vegetables.
  3. Apparently compliant – no pork but will generally consume chicken, beef, lamb, etc. even in a non-halal restaurant.
  4. Non-compliant – will eat anything, including non-halal.

My guess is that categories 2 and 3 would form the majority and 1 and 4 are minorities. It would be interesting to see what are the percentages of the population for each category.

Anything else you’d like to say?

Juju: I believe it is time for us to walk the talk. We talk about the need to practice the broader concept of halal and Tayyib (lawful, good, pleasant, agreeable, clean, wholesome, excellent). I would like to start a movement that truly encompasses this concept. It’s all very well for a cow to be slaughtered the Prophetic way but it should be a grass-fed cow that has been given opportunity to roam and graze in natural pastures. We want to offer halal food and products that are also natural, healthy and wholesome.

Darhim: One thing we all as Muslims must accept is that we are different and that we must accommodate those differences. In fact it has been ordained for us to learn from those differences rather than allow them to divide us as a community. Therefore, rather than trying to indoctrinate a single standard, it would be more practical to develop a system where consumers are empowered to make an informed decision. Consumers themselves need to take more interest in what they consume and not simply take things for granted. My personal hope is that everyone makes the effort to gain the knowledge and assume more responsibility.

Summary researcher comments

Based upon the biographies and experiences of the subjects studied, it appears that formal and traditional qualifications in halal are of little significance. What appears more crucial is a working knowledge of halal and the ability to establish networks and partnerships of knowledge sharing and collaboration – which understand key concepts applied in a contemporary business context. From this, key players have to consolidate information and present it in a variety of formats, catering for the needs of diverse stakeholders. These activities are underpinned by more than just a subject interest, but also a real passion. The skill-set is one that exacts the transference of professional skills, from a wide range of professions, which are then applied to the halal sector. This is in response to the fact that the halal sector is wide-ranging and expanding – notably now into cosmetics, fashion and entertainment.

A subsequent development from the research study and its findings was the decision to invite Juju and Darhim onto the Editorial Advisory Board for the Journal of Islamic Marketing. It was felt that their insight and contributions would be of great value to the academic and practitioner community, through their association and future collaborative work. I would therefore like to extend a warm welcome on behalf of the rest of the Editorial Advisory Board.

Corporate web sites

KasehDia – www.kasehdia.com/
IHI Alliance – www.ihialliance.org/
World Halal Forum – www.worldhalalforum.org/

Jonathan A.J. Wilson
University of Greenwich, UK