M&S Launches Market-First Own Label Halal Prepared Meal Range

M&S Food is set to launch a range of own label Halal prepared ready meals, which it claims is a first for a major UK retailer and will tap into growing demand for such products.


From next week, a range of six Halal Food Authority (HFA) certified prepared meals will roll-out across 36 selected M&S stores. The retailer stated that its product development team has worked with HFA and suppliers to deliver Halal certified versions of its most popular prepared meals, including Chicken Arrabbiata, Chicken & Mushroom Tagliatelle, Chicken & Leek Bake, Chicken Hotpot, Chicken Jalfrezi, and a Chicken Tikka Masala.


Stuart Machin, Managing Director of M&S Food commented: “Protecting the magic of M&S Food means leading the way as food innovators, with first to market ranges that respond to growing dietary demands and can deliver real commercial impact.


“M&S Food is changing to become more relevant, more often to families across Britain and our new Halal meal range is a great example of how we are broadening appeal so that more customers can enjoy our delicious, quality food.”


In May this year, M&S began stocking a range of Shazans branded Halal chicken products in selected stores. It said that a strong sales response from local customers to these products led to its decision to invest in an own label range.  The new M&S Halal prepared meal range has a distinctive orange packaging design and logo and will be stocked alongside the Shazans products.


As well as going on sale in selected UK stores, the new range will also be sold by M&S’ international franchise partner Al-Futtaim in markets including Singapore and Dubai.

Brazil’s BRF to invest $120 mln in Saudi chicken processing plant

SÃO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazilian food processor BRF SA on Tuesday announced an agreement to invest around $120 million to build its first chicken processing plant in Saudi Arabia in a bid to strengthen its position in a key growth market.

The company, the largest food exporter in the Gulf region, has four production facilities in the Middle East, where increasing populations will lift demand for food.

BRF shares rose marginally on the news, up 0.70% to 35.85 reais in late afternoon trading.

BRF currently serves the Saudi market through eight plants in Brazil and a factory in Abu Dhabi.

Earlier this month BRF said its Abu Dhabi plant was being audited and that Saudi Arabia had restricted buying of some of its products.

Asked whether agreeing on an investment on Saudi soil was a pre-emptive move against protectionism, Chief Financial Officer Carlos Moura downplayed the idea.

“The BRF move is that of a protagonist. It is not purely and simply defensive. We have a long history in the region,” he told Reuters in an interview.

The investment underscores BRF’s goal to remain a leading supplier to countries of the Gulf, he said.

Most of the output from the new plant, estimated at around 50,000 tonnes per year, would be for the Saudi market, but can also be directed to neighboring countries.

BRF, which has operated in the Middle East since the 1970s, said the plant’s product portfolio will include breaded and marinated products and burgers, among others.


The plan is to start operating the new plant by end-2021, Moura said.


According to the USDA, Saudi Arabia’s chicken production in 2019 is forecast at 730,000 tonnes and is projected to increase to 750,000 tonnes next year. Chicken consumption this year is estimated at 1.33 million tonnes and is forecast to reach 1.38 million tonnes in 2020.


BRF said the precise location, investment schedule and capital structure of its Saudi Arabia factory would be determined later.


Moura declined to discuss financing for the project in detail, but said there is “no obligation” to take out loans in the region. The plant will generate 1,000 direct and indirect jobs and will be 100% owned by BRF, he said.


The halal market, which requires an animal be slaughtered in accordance with Muslim rules for its meat to be allowed for consumption, represented about 27% of BRF global food volumes, generating net sales of 2.4 billion reais ($602 million) in the second quarter.

Saudi Arabia: Plant-based foods on the rise across the Middle East, says Prince Khaled

Prince Khaled said the success of plant-based products largely rests on education and the availability of information to consumers and potential consumers.


Plant-based foods are “picking up steam”, with start-ups in the sector being increasingly recognised as potentially lucrative, according to KBW Ventures founder and CEO Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal al Saud.


A well-known and outspoken proponent of a vegan lifestyle and animal welfare, Prince Khaled’s KBW Ventures has invested in a number of firms focused on plant-based products, including the Los Angeles-based Beyond Meat and Plant Power Fast Food, a San Diego-based company that presents itself as a vegan alternative to McDonald’s.


Additionally, KBW Ventures has tied up with American chef Matthew Kenney to create Folia, a plant-based menu that was launched last year.


In an interview with Arabian Business, Prince Khaled said that plant-based food products are “picking up steam” in the region despite their relative infancy in the Middle East.


“The benefits, including how much better plant-based food is in terms of climate change, are being discussed much more often now in the local media and across social media channels,” he said.


In the past, however, Prince Khaled believes there was a “lag in terms of appreciation” of the potential of plant-based business models.


“Now, these start-ups are recognisable as profit-making endeavours, and plant-based products and foods are also being seen as having a ‘social good’ element, simply because the carbon footprint is better and because the products and food are better for you,” he said.


Prince Khaled added that the success of plant-based products largely rests on education and the availability of information to consumers and potential consumers.


“Only in the past few years has this information been made available in Arabic,” he said. “I had tons of people questioning what I was even talking about in the early days when I would put up a social media post about observing a plant-based lifestyle.”


According to research from AT Kearney, GCC consumers have some of the highest per capita meat consumption rates in the world, totalling 64 kg per person in Saudi Arabia and 59 kg per person in the UAE.

Director General of Dubai Arts and Culture Authority to speak at the Turin Islamic Economic Forum (TIEF)

Hala Badri, Director General of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) gave a special address to audiences gathered at the Turin Islamic Economic Forum (TIEF) – held in Turin during the period from 28 to 30 October 2019. Her keynote speech, directed at the start of the first day conference focused on the city of Dubai as an enabler for creative economy.


The Forum also hosted a round-table powered by the “Global Islamic Economy Summit” (GIES), the global event organized by the Government of Dubai through the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Center (DIEDC), titled: Islamic creative economy and halal tourism. In this round table, representatives of the Dubai Culture, DinarStandard, Think Fashion, Italian Industry and Commerce Office in the UAE and the Halal Trade and Marketing Centre (HTMC) and the Etihad Credit Insurance gathered to discuss the global Islamic economy.


The Forum – organised by the City of Turin, in partnership with the University of Turin, the Turin Chamber of Commerce, the Association for the Development of Alternative Instruments and Financial Innovation (ASSAIF), with the organisational support of Turismo Torino e Provincia – aims at promoting social integration and financial innovation through the opportunities offered by Islamic finance. It is also keen to generate opportunities, share best practices and create useful conditions to attract investments into Italy by the UAE and other countries where Islamic finance plays a decisive role for economic development.


Hala Badri, Director General of Dubai Culture said: “The Islamic Creative Economy is a growing global market and one that Dubai lies at the centre of. It can be broadly defined as any economic activities that include cultural or creative production, cultural events and activities, which are of Islamic origin, related to or inspired by Islamic tradition. Our entire cultural ecosystem is built upon this model and it is vital to discuss this at an international and strategic level.”


TIEF 2019 gathers from 28th to 30th October at the Torino Incontra Conference Centre and at ETF-Villa Gualino in Turin, Italy. It revolves around the following topics: Fintech, Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence: all disruptive technology that, in their essence, are compliant with Islamic finance; New Urban Policies; Social Impact Policies; Islamic Creative Economy and related expertise, Migration and Refugees Policies.

Egyptian companies to invest $1b in Pakistan: report

Egyptian companies will invest $1 billion in Pakistan’s energy, infrastructure, halal food and tourism sectors, the Arab News reported Thursday.


According to the report, Egypt’s Ambassador to Pakistan Ahmed Fadel Yacoub said the investment would come from his country’s private sector. “Investment projects will begin in the next one year,” he was quoted as saying.


Yacoub said representatives of these Egyptian companies met with Prime Minister Imran Khan, members of his cabinet and state functionaries during their visits to Islamabad.


Zubair Gilani, the chairman of Pakistan’s Board of Investment, confirmed that Egyptian companies are interested in construction, livestock, halal food and agriculture sectors.


“We are ready to facilitate them,” Gilani said.

Pakistan: PTI govt divided over control of halal authority

The government’s lethargy towards tapping the international Halal food market is inexplicable given the huge potential that Pakistan has in livestock, dairy and poultry sectors. Experts believe that the country can export Halal products worth $5 to $6 billion a year if they focus on a few key areas. The government, to the contrary, has for months been fighting over what is called jurisdiction dispute in police parlance. The federal cabinet is divided on whether to place the Pakistan Halal Authority (PHA) — a body responsible for promoting and regulating Halal food trade — under the administrative control of the Ministry of Commerce or the Ministry of Science and Technology.


The cabinet held long deliberations over the issue earlier this month, but failed to reach a consensus. Some cabinet members believe that since the PHA is essentially a certification authority, its functions are more aligned with those of the Ministry of Science and Technology while others are of the view that the PHA’s role — i.e. promotion of Halal products’ trade — is more relevant to the Ministry of Commerce. It was in March this year that the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet had directed the PM’s Adviser on Institutional Reforms and Austerity, Dr Ishrat Husain, to present a viable plan for turning the PHA into a vibrant organisation.


However, the deadlock on a non-issue is delaying the urgently-needed steps for promoting export of Halal products. The government must do away with this stumbling block related to the administrative control forthwith and concentrate on: formulating a robust strategy to raise exports with the involvement of the private sector; expediting work on Halal certification and developing a Halal logo for all its Halal products; helping private companies develop technical skill in processing, storing, transporting and marketing of Halal products; and maintaining the international standards in packaging and marketing of Halal products.

Turkey to help develop Cambodia’s halal industry

During an official visit to Ankara, Turkey, last week, Cambodian Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak requested Turkey’s assistance to improve the quality of halal food in the Kingdom and spread awareness among Cambodians.


In a meeting with the Cambodian minister on Friday, Turkish Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan agreed to form a team to assist the Kingdom’s halal industry.


“Halal food in Cambodia is still a new thing. We need Turkey’s support and technical assistance, particularly with regards to hygiene requirements and certification,” Mr Sorasak said according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Commerce.


Both leaders also agreed to strengthen trade cooperation between their governments, and Minister Sorasak asked Turkish Airlines to consider starting a direct flight between the two countries.


Speaking during a business seminar earlier this month, Senior Minister Osman Hassan said Cambodia has great potential in the halal industry.


“There are many opportunities for investment in Cambodia’s halal industry. Cambodia has plenty of raw materials and some countries are already interested in importing halal products from Cambodia,” he said.


Ly Veasna, president of the Cambodia Islamic Business Association, told Khmer Times last week that demand for halal food in Cambodia is still relatively small but that there is plenty of room for it to grow.


“The potential is very big but unfortunately there is not much interest to invest in the sector yet.”


INEXTO, which is part of the IMPALA Group, is a leading company in the field of traceability and authentication whose solutions now cover more than 100 billion products worldwide.


Thanks to its unique expertise, INEXTO now offers a revolutionary solution that guarantees total transparency and Provenance of Trust regarding the origin, composition, quality and distribution chain of food and related products to all stakeholders, right up to the final consumer.


Any producer wishing to communicate in total transparency as to the ingredients and origin of its products, and the certifications obtained (e.g. organic, environmental impact, Halal) has an efficient solution, guaranteeing the establishment of a relationship of trust with distributors and end- consumers.


Our solutions provide manufacturers with powerful analysis and optimization tools, such as mapping the entire product life cycle from raw material suppliers to distributors of finished products, allowing them to quickly identify any malfunctions or incidents.


In addition, our solutions guarantee consumers access to all the information they need to make an informed purchase; verifying the origin, authenticity and quality of the product, the ingredients used in its manufacture and the certifications obtained, all through a simple scan with their smartphone.


Consumers can ensure that the product they are buying does not contain allergens or harmful additives, that it has been produced and transported in accordance with the best applicable social (child labour) and eco-responsibility standards (e.g. organic farming, low CO2 footprint, GMO-free, etc.), or that it meets religious requirements (e.g. Halal).


It is this transparency, guaranteed by INEXTO solutions, that is the cornerstone of a lasting relationship of trust between producers, distributors, retailers and consumers.

Indonesia imports 50,000 tons of beef from Brazil

Indonesia wants to import 50,000 tons of frozen beef from Brazil. The Asian country mainly imports beef from Australia and New Zealand.


Permits for 30,000 tonnes were given to state food procurement agency Bulog, 10,000 tonnes to state-owned PT Berdikari and 10,000 tonnes to PT Perusahaan Perdagangan Indonesia, reports Salaam Gateway.


The imports from Brazil were aimed at diversifying Indonesia‘s source of meat imports. The Asian country mainly imports beef from Australia and New Zealand.

How halal meat became big business

Demand from Muslim millennials combined with public disaffection over recent food scandals sees Islamic food go mainstream


On an industrial estate on the outskirts of Swansea, a small revolution is taking place. Lewis Pies, a family firm that has been making British staples such as beef and onion pies, traditional pasties and sausage rolls for more than 80 years, has turned over a third of its business to halal products over the past decade to meet burgeoning demand. According to the managing director Wilf Lewis, halal is the future. “As a business, you set greyhounds off, and this is the one that’s running fastest,” he says. “We could get to the point during the next decade where halal is the majority of what we produce.”


Lewis Pies is part of a rapidly expanding market that reflects the demands of the growing Muslim population. The spending power of Muslim millennials, and their mix of faith and consumerism, is driving the trend.


As the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims prepare to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, which starts on Sunday, the latest figures suggest the global halal food and drink market will be worth close to £1.5 trillion by 2030. Other sectors of the Islamic economy – pharmaceuticals, travel, finance, modest clothing, cosmetics – are also set to grow.


But halal food may be on the verge of moving beyond the Muslim consumer market, according to industry experts, driven in part by food provenance scandals, such as the use of horsemeat, in recent years. Abdalhamid Evans, a strategist at Imarat Consultants, which specialises in halal market intelligence, told a recent conference: “Halal products, if well designed and marketed, can appeal to the general population. Halal is moving from niche to mainstream.”


Halal meat comes from animals slaughtered in accordance with Islamic law. They must be alive and healthy at the time of slaughter, killed by hand and have all blood drained from the carcass. More than 80% of animals killed for halal meat are stunned before slaughter, although it is not a legal requirement in the UK. The RSPCA, British Veterinary Association, the Farm Animal Welfare Council and animal rights groups say slaughter without pre-stunning can cause unnecessary suffering.


Lewis Pies has worked hard to get accreditation from halal governing bodies, source halal ingredients and win the confidence of Muslim customers by inviting them to the factory to see the separate halal production lines.


Its halal journey began with an approach from prison service catering contractors asking if the company could create a halal product for Muslim inmates. At that stage halal accounted for less than 5% of the company’s business. Within a few years it had removed all pork products from its lines. “It was a tough decision. In one way you’re limiting your market – no more pork pies or pork sausage rolls,” says Lewis, 40. “We had suppliers asking for chicken, ham and leek pies, and we had to say no – but we can do a good chicken and leek pie.”



The firm also had to deal with a backlash from Islamophobes and animal rights activists. “I once spent two hours drafting a very careful reply to someone, explaining the issues and the background,” adds Lewis. “I sent it off and got a totally inappropriate response. So we don’t engage with people who don’t want a rational discussion.”


Now halal is the company’s main growth area, accounting for more than 35% of the business, and selling to wholesalers, retailers and brands that market products under their own labels. The biggest demand is for traditional British staples. “There’s a preconception that with halal products you need to ‘currify’ everything, but what people really want is [beef] sausage rolls and meat pies,” says Lewis. The company has now been approached by two football clubs interested in halal pies to be eaten on the terraces.


This desire among Muslims for classic British food led 30-year-old entrepreneur Shazia Saleem to launch a range of halal ready meals under her ieat label. “I wanted shepherd’s pie from the age of seven, and no one was making a halal version, so I made it myself,” she said at a recent Muslim lifestyle conference.


“Since 2013, there’s been a sixfold increase in Muslims shopping in chilled meals aisles looking for something halal,” she said. Her products are stocked in several big supermarket chains.


The demand for halal food is also driving restaurant reviews and ventures such as the Halal Dining Club and the food blog Halal Girl About Town.


In Swansea, the factory’s adjustment to halal has led the family in unexpected directions. “If you had told me five years ago, when I was managing a software company, that I’d be selling halal pies, I wouldn’t have believed it,” says Lewis. “But we’ve overcome suspicions and made some good friends. We’ve had a fantastic reception.”