01 December 2015
Like natural and organic products, once given little significance and scant shelf space, foods with halal and kosher approval are now taking entire aisles by storm as manufacturers and brands swiftly increase their certified offerings. Now "one-third to one-half of the food in a typical American supermarket is kosher," points out Sue Fishkoff, author of "Kosher Nation," in Businessweek.

Today, the numbers tell a very compelling story: The U.S. halal market is estimated at $20 billion by the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America in an AP news story, while the kosher foods market was valued at over $13 billion annually in 2010, noted Businessweek. But the Jewish and Muslim communities that originated these centuries-old endorsements, which ensure that a food or beverage conforms to stringent regulations governing every aspect of its production, aren’t fueling the growth of these certified foods alone. With U.S. populations only estimated at approximately 5.3 million- and 2.6 million-strong respectively, as reported in Inc. magazine, Jews and Muslims are joined by millions of Americans seeking safer, purer and more ethically produced foods.

Halal and kosher manufacturers are playing to the crowds. For instance, kosher powerhouse Manischewitz offers myriad gluten-free foods, which furthers its appeal to health-conscious consumers outside of the brand’s traditional audience. Halal-certified Saffron Road, a line of frozen foods founded in 2010 by American Halal Company, clearly highlights when its products are gluten-free and organic and omit genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Saffron Road also boasts boxes that are "graffitied with half a dozen or so seals of approval: certified humane, antibiotic free, gluten free," notes Inc. magazine. In fact, 70 percent of its consumer base is not Muslim, says the brand’s founder in Fast Company.

In general, consumers buy kosher foods for their quality (62 percent), general healthfulness (51 percent) and food safety (34 percent), while just 15 percent purchase it to comply with religious tenets, notes research firm Mintel, as reported in Forbes. These new health and safety concerns are fueling the strong popularity of halal and kosher foods with a wider population. Now 80 percent of those who consume kosher foods are not Jewish, according to the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT).

Other numbers also attest to the broader appeal of halal and kosher foods. During a five-year span, ending in 2008, kosher food sales increased by 64 percent according to Mintel, as cited by IFT. In 2013, kosher sales were expected to reach $17 billion in the U.S., according to Kosher Advisory Services and reported in Forbes.
Thanks to the quickly growing appeal of kosher products, Manischewitz has begun to advertise in a more secular way, notes The New York Times. Halal foods are likely to follow suit given the market’s potential: the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA), an organization that assesses and promotes halal products, estimates its value will exceed the $20 billion mark by next year.

Unlike other food labels, such as organic, attaining halal or kosher certification requires meeting a set of criteria that is not regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The agency leaves the process to "religious authorities or those they sanction," notes a U.S. Department of State brochure.

Getting In On The Growth

So how can food and beverage companies cater to consumers interested in halal and kosher offerings? The process is similar to entering any new market:
 
  • Research and understand the requirements for producing kosher and halal products.
     
  • Determine if your manufacturing process needs to change to meet those requirements.
     
  • Calculate costs involved to create and introduce kosher and halal products.
     
  • Consider the range of marketing tools you can use to connect prospective products with interested consumers.

Conducting this background research and calculating potential costs will provide a clear picture of whether entering the kosher and halal food and beverage markets is a worthwhile business opportunity. Third-party halal and kosher certifiers can help with such assessments, including evaluating current manufacturing processes, which often contribute to food safety. Tetra Pak has been at the forefront of food safety efforts and has paid careful attention to the Food Safety and Modernization Act, which is scheduled to take effect in June 2015. Learn more about food safety concerns and Tetra Pak’s efforts here.
 
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