Halal Foods – A Growing Opportunity for Canadian Retailers / Brands

This week, the Canadian division of Campbell Soup Co. was portrayed negatively in the American blogosphere for its launch of a line of ten Halal Soups targeted at Muslim consumers who have specific dietary requirements.

The blogosphere is wrong.

In fact, Campbell Canada is doing something that more of us should be thinking about – developing products that are targeted or approved for consumption by the substantial Muslim population here in Canada.

According to Statistics Canada, the Muslim population in Canada numbered 579,000 in 2001; up from just 253,000 in 1991.

By way of comparison, the Jewish population in Canada stood at 330,000 in 2001; and there is already a wide range of CPG products that have been certified as Kosher for Jewish consumers.

In the past, the barriers to Halal certification were likely the small population base and a lack of understanding of the definition / criteria for Halal foods.

What makes a food product Halal? Let’s first start with the word “Halal’ which translates as “lawful” or “permitted” under Islamic dietary law.

In order to be Halal, foods must not contain certain ingredients such as pork, pork by-products, alcohol, vanilla extract, meat not slaughtered according to Islamic dietary laws or a number of other ingredients.  Specific details can be found here.

However, Halal food does not preclude other consumers from purchasing the same products. Just like many of us eat Kosher foods everyday without even noticing  (Coke Zero, Red Rose Tea and Smucker’s Jam all bear a Kosher symbol), Halal foods do not have to be niche products or slow moving items.

Once a product meets the criteria and is certified, the product can sit on the grocery store shelf along with the rest of the category.

From a promotional perspective, getting the word out will be job #1. Shelf tags and themed flyer pages are an obvious choice. Building robust promotions around key holidays such as Eid, which takes place at the end of Ramadan, would also boost awareness.

Marketing to the masses is dead. Halal products represent a clear opportunity for the suppliers who make the effort to get their products certified and develop a promotional plan to attract the attention of one of Canada’s fastest growing ethic groups.

For more on how the CPG industry should evolve to match the tastes and needs of our changing population, watch for my “Retail Collaboration” column in the November / December issue of Western Grocer.


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