Halal food market surging in Canada Imam Wahid Wardak, an inspector with the Halal Monitoring Authority, checks for HMA labels on boxes of chicken meat at a Halal meat wholesalers and distributors in Toronto on Thursday, April 6, 2017. A growing Muslim community in Canada has led to swelling sales of halal food, which has some grocers and manufacturers seeking ways to profit from the boom.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young by Lois Abraham, The Canadian Press Posted Apr 20, 2017 2:12 pm MDT Last Updated Apr 20, 2017 at 3:40 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email TORONTO – A growing Muslim community in Canada has led to swelling sales of halal food, which has some grocers, manufacturers and eateries seeking ways to profit from the boom.“It’s a huge business. It’s an $80-billion business around the world. In Canada, it’s about $1 billion and it’s growing … by 10 to 15 per cent a year, which is quite significant. It’s much more than other categories,” says Sylvain Charlebois, a professor in food distribution and policy at Dalhousie University in Halifax.Halal means permissible in Arabic and refers to foods that have been prepared according to Islamic law. Animals must not suffer when they’re slaughtered and must not see another animal be killed. Pork and its byproducts and alcohol are among forbidden items not allowed in the making of halal foods.While Canadians are increasingly seeing more halal products stocked by the big supermarket chains, the complexity of the supply chain has led to concerns about mislabelled food or fraud.Contamination and traceability were motivating factors for the formation of the Halal Monitoring Authority of Canada, says chief operating officer Imam Omar Subedar.A presentation on malpractices in the halal industry he attended in 2004 was eye-opening.“What we were exposed to was really, really bad. There was just no ethics, no controls, no nothing. It was very sad.”The HMA launched in 2006 with one certified chicken product. Now there are hundreds, with 30 inspectors in Ontario, three in Alberta, two in Quebec and a representative in B.C. There are plans to start operations in Saskatchewan.The Canadian Food Inspection Agency approved guidelines for halal products just last year.“Halal unfortunately has been heavily abused and this is why CFIA has gotten involved, which is unprecedented. The government doesn’t get involved in religion, but for halal they did because of the malpractices that had been going on,” says Subedar.Salima Jivraj, an on-the-go mom who founded Halal Food Festival Toronto in 2012 and runs the website Halalfoodie.ca, says the mainstream availability of halal products now means she can avoid multiple stops at independent shops during her weekly shopping trip.“I want to go to a grocery store because I’m busy,” she says. “Retailers are noticing now — ‘how can we hone in on this?’”Sobeys Inc. launched the store Chalo FreshCo in 2015 in Brampton, Ont., with separate halal and non-halal meat counters and an assortment of rice, spices, lentils and snacks for South Asian customers.Loblaw Companies Ltd. has launched its own halal brand, Sufra, and also sells other brands of halal chicken, beef, lamb, yogurt, turkey and gummy candies.Jivraj suggests a lot of Muslims unknowingly eat non-halal products.“Immigrants come to the country and they might not necessarily know that they have to look out for halal. Coming from countries that are 100 per cent halal, it might be a new concept for them,” says Jivraj.Reading labels doesn’t always tell the entire story. Candies, yogurt, jellies, baked goods and pharmaceutical products may contain gelatin, which can be derived from pork. Animal shortening such as lard and brewer’s yeast are not halal. Vanilla extract flavouring contains alcohol.“There’s going to be more and more demand being driven for things like bakeries, confectionery, dairy including cheeses because a lot of animal byproducts are found in all sorts of categories in grocery and the consumers are realizing this as well and they’re being more vigilant in the products that they buy,” says Jivraj.Meanwhile, big fast-food chains like Pizza Pizza, KFC, Popeyes and Nandos have added halal options to their menus, while The Halal Guys, a fast-casual franchise that started as a food cart in Manhattan with huge lineups, is opening a Toronto location on May 5.“If there is more food offered to consumers they will buy more essentially,” says Charlebois of the rise in halal offerings.Follow @lois_abraham on Twitter.
PRESIDENT MICHAEL D Higgins will spend day two of his visit to Chile meeting with some of the country’s political leaders and later with members of the Irish community.Yesterday President Higgins started his two-week South America trip by meeting with President Sebastian Pinera and being the guest of honour at a dinner hosted at the presidential palace.This morning at 9.15am local time (1.15pm Irish time) President Higgins will deliver an address at the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean in Santiago.Later he will meet with the president of the Chilean senate and the president of the chamber of deputies before further meetings with the acting mayor of Santiago.At this meeting he will be honoured as a distinguished guest of the city of Santiago.Later President Higgins, who is being accompanied by his wife Sabina, will visit the Museum of Memory and Human Rights before he is the guest of honour at an Irish Community Reception in the Centro Gabreila Mistral.The centre is named after the Chilean poet who was the first and, so far, only Latin American woman to win the Nobel Peace Price in Literature in 1945.Tomorrow President Higgins will visit the graves of Chile’s former president Salvador Allende, a leftist leader who was deposed by military junta in the 1970s, and the poet and diplomat Pablo Neruda.On Sunday, the President will travel to Brazil for the second leg of his two-week trip.My favourite speech: President Michael D Higgins