Halal Food : non-Muslims consumers concerned about it ?
|DR. AZMI ABD AZIZ
Chief Technical Officer,Global Haltech
The halal food industry is one of the largest industries in our country. It is heavily influenced by the economic status of Malaysia. Halal food is defined as food handled according to Islamic Sharia Law and food products approved by certification systems. It guarantees consumers that nothing in the food has any forbidden components.
Halal food is suitable for both Muslims and non-Muslims. According to Ambali and Bakar (2014), the Third Industrial Master Plan (IMP3) announced by the Malaysian government ensures the country has taken many efforts to help elevate Malaysia’s status as a halal hub among Muslim countries.
The government has started such efforts since 2006 by increasing awareness of the advantages of halal products being introduced into consumers’ daily diets. This does include the non-Muslims residing in Malaysia, as the multiracial country has roughly 39.7 per cent non-Muslims. The growth of the halal food industry has led to rising interest among non-Muslims in halal food products.
As numerous races live harmoniously in Malaysia, acculturation occurs. The minority races adopt some aspects of the majority, i.e. Malay Muslims. The non-Muslim consumers negotiate their ideals when making food choices depending on what is available to them.
Thus, it is likely that they utilise their ideals in weighing the halal food concept offerings of halalan-toyyiban. These are wholesome foods that are safe to consume and approved by certified hygienic and safety manufacturing processes such as the HACCP and JAKIM halal certification.
Both certifications guarantee the quality of the food products and provide extra marketing tools that manufacturers can use. The result of this excellent negotiation is the establishment of rules which would lead to a change in their food choices.
Moreover, with the growing concern of food quality and health issues, halal food products are credible. Consumers can rely on such credibility. To increase awareness among non-Muslims about halal food, they must understand halal food products. And how such information can influence their buying decision.
Halal food issues have recently been booming among consumers in Malaysia, especially in its acceptance amongst nonMuslims. Non-Muslim consumers seek clean food that helps maintain good health and follows both handling and environmental hygienic practices.
Halal food meets this demand. Such factors are the main reason why halal food products are becoming more acceptable among all consumers. It has led to an increase in market acceptance.
Reason for Acceptance
Important reasons associated with the market acceptance are:
- Food Safety
The rising health concerns among consum-ers today are why the concept of halal is no longer restricted to a religious value. This is because the health concern in food consumption basically shares the same value as the halal concept. Nity, Matthew, Raudah, and Nurazizah (2012) stated the concept of being healthy means being watchful over what is taken into the body. It is also about the cleanliness of food, the food source, and the method of handling and preparing the food. The main reason is to minimise any harmful effects on the body.
- Food Quality
Food quality is an essential factor in the decision-making process of consumers when purchasing food products. Consumers positively accept products of high quality. In terms of food, quality is defined by its cleanliness and freshness. To achieve this, food processing methods must sustain the cleanliness and freshness of the food, which directly affects the nutritional value of the food.
Convenience-related quality is related to the time and effort expended when buying, storing, preparing and consuming the product. All of this is directly related to the acceptance by non-Muslims of halal food products since the final product is of the highest quality.
- Animal Welfare
The Islamic law preaches a zerotolerance to all forms of animal abuse throughoutthehalalproductionsupplychain.It demands that when animals are slaughtered, they must be slaughtered mindfully and attentively as espoused by the Prophet Muhammad. The spiritual quality of meat products is fundamentally vital for halal consumers. Therefore, all spiritual aspects must be met, including animal welfare standards of meat production.
It just so happens that in recent years, there has been a movement amongst nonMuslim consumers to choose products that treat animals fairly and ethically.
Therefore, it further convinces them to buy halal meat products when they know they are appropriately treated before being slaughtered.
Malaysia consists of different races who also believe in multiple religions, leading to other beliefs, customs and traditions. Such differences may influence their way of living, especially in their eating habits, perception and attitude toward food products.
To increase the awareness of non-Muslims towards halal food, the issue that arises is how knowledgeable they are towards halal products and how the information can influence their decision to choose halal products in their daily lives.
For Muslim consumers, choosing halal food is a must, and it is a religious requirement based on Islamic teachings. Non-Muslim consumers, on the other hand, value halal because of the health benefits it provides, which makes a choice purely voluntary rather than fulfilling a religious requirement.
Halal-certified food products guarantee hygiene and cleanliness. The concept is parallel to fulfilling the need of health-conscious consumers on how they want their food to be produced or prepared.ⓠ