Importance of Having Unified Halal Criteria
According to the statistical data in the World Economic Economy 2017/2018 report published by Thomson Reuters related to the Islamic economy, global spending on various sectors of the Islamic economy was estimated at approximately $ 3.2 trillion in 2017. It is important to note that the level of global spending in 2014 on the halal food sector alone has reached $ 1.128 billion and an increase in spending is expected to rise to $ 1.585 trillion by 2020. While global spending on other sectors of life, such as travel, fashion, media, entertainment, medicine and cosmetics, is estimated at $ 1.8 billion in 2014, expenditure is expected to increase steadily to $ 2.6 billion by 2020.
Standardization is also expected to increase investor interest. Investor interest had been limited so far because the business itself was on a limited scale. Now the business is growing, and with the support of proper halal standards and schemes, the supply-and-demand equation would draw more funding, helping halal commodities compete with non-halal products in the same category”.
Different halal standards and halal schemes around the world led to confusion between manufacturers and exporters.
While the Islamic Economy can be considered an excellent opportunity to promote the halal trade, halal industries and halal-based business across the world, it faces structural and operational challenges in regulation, standardization, compliance, supply chain integrity, research and development, consumer education and awareness. Regulation and standardization challenge is one of the most influencing challenges as it highly affects the trade between countries.
The importation of halal products and services into Islamic countries becomes a considerable business and an opportunity for manufacturers and exporters to enter this fast-growing market segment. This requires a proper halal certificate and halal mark that guarantee compliance with the specified halal requirements set by each country.
In its current status, each country has its own regulation, standards, halal schemes and halal conformity assessment practices. Getting a proper halal certificate can be questionable due to the existence of many certification bodies working in halal; with adopting different sets of standards and schemes, therefore, this led to confusion between manufacturers and exporters, which requirements they shall comply with? and why one product is accepted in one country as “halal” and not accepted in another country? This situation also resulted in having more than a hundred halal marks are currently being used all over the globe and expanded the confusion to the consumers of halal products, which halal mark is accurate? Are the products declared as halal; really halal? At the end, this becomes a hindering factor for the growth of the halal market.
In addition to that, manufacturers and exports found themselves forced to comply with different sets of requirements with considering the financial impact associated with this that is passes at the end to consumers who have to pay higher prices for halal products and services.
From here the need arises for having unified criteria for halal in each sector, and for streamlining the certification process between different countries and creating a unified halal conformity assessment practices.
IHAF Role in Having Unified Halal Criteria
IHAF’s ultimate mission is to unify halal criteria and halal conformity assessment practices and generate a global agreement among the authorities that would ease the flow of halal goods between countries and create halal market consumers can trust. Hence, to overcome this challenge of lacking uniform halal criteria and unified conformity assessment practices in halal field, IHAF is working on establishing unified criteria for halal accreditation bodies and unified criteria for all halal schemes through the work of its Technical Affairs Committee. The issued halal criteria documents shall result in reducing challenges related to the unified criteria and practices in this field and shall form the bases for the peer evaluation process of IHAF and the mutual recognition among its members.
One of IHAF’s main objectives is to ensure unified criteria, integrity and transparency within halal accreditation schemes. Reliable dependence and the desire for rapid expansion in the halal markets are motivating many countries to adopt unified halal practices, which is reflected in the growing growth of IHAF members. Countries with unified accreditation practices have clear competitive advantages in the global market, especially in terms of reliability and cost, and are in a stronger position when it comes to expanding their global presence.
It is worth mentioning here that IHAF facilitates mutual recognition between member accreditation bodies to enhance international trade in the field of halal and assures governments and regulatory bodies that halal products under the IHAF’s umbrella need no further testing, certification or verification. By streamlining the accreditation, certification and monitoring processes, IHAF also facilitates cost-effective accreditation; thereby producing cheaper halal goods and promotes accessibility to global markets for halal-related firms.
Alongside creating unified global halal criteria, IHAF will promote awareness on the scientific foundation and health benefits of halal products. Raising awareness amongst consumers will make them choose authentic, certified halal products, and that would further increase the demand.