What Is “halal” and why should you carry It?

by | Apr 9, 2024 | Blog

At Harvest Sherwood, we realize the value of offering our customers a wide selection of products from both traditional American cuisines, as well as an ever-growing inventory of ethnic food products. Halal is one of those ethnic categories and we’d like to dive into how these products can add variety to your inventory and give an incremental boost to your bottom line.  Understanding what “halal certified” means can guide you in offering new culinary adventures to existing customers as well as attracting new customers who adhere to halal eating.

So, what exactly does halal mean?? From a culinary perspective, halal is a Mediterranean cooking style combining East and West, blending Middle Eastern cuisine’s spices and flavors with the Mediterranean diet’s healthy ingredients. Culturally, the travel website Crescentrating.com gives a great explanation and says, “Halal food is any food deemed permissible under Islamic law, as defined in the Quran. These laws guide Muslims around the globe in identifying what foods are halal thus fulfilling their dietary requirements in accordance with Islamic teachings.”

About 10 years ago, we dove into this growing halal segment of business enabling us expand our market share and customer base. Our Kansas City Distribution Center for example started with a handful of local halal markets and has grown to a 7-state distribution area in our Midwestern region. Over the years, we have also seen our customers’ business increase in this sector.

But what makes halal such a popular, easy addition to your stores and what does it mean for your business?  Anyone that carries halal products will tell you that adding this ethnically-enriched section can help grow sales with regular customers looking to expand their culinary repertoire and new customers looking for a “go-to spot” for their dietary restrictions. Similar to having a dedicated vegan or gluten-free section, you can increase the items in their shopping cart with products that tend to have higher margins due to the exclusivity and additional guidelines required.

Initially, there are a few basic halal items to stock that are well-known and accepted by most palettes. Samosas are a food you’ll see on every restaurant menu with foods originating from Middle East, North Africa, and West Asia. These savory pastries are filled with spices, herbs, potatoes, and a cooked protein, such as chicken, beef, or an array of legumes. Another item that has had a great reception in America is the Seekh Kebab. Like samosas, these Kebabs are made using multiple proteins, such as chicken, beef, and lamb. Both of these popular items are procured through Harvest Sherwood’s regular halal vendors and each location can verify their availability or begin discussion with you on how to grow this market niche. Also, here’s a great article on How to Market and Advertise Your Halal Food Business that will provide more insight.

Growing this segment of business increases the importance for protein-based food to be accurately labeled and correctly prepared. Purchasing from Harvest Sherwood’s who has already verified our halal products will make this process easier. This article, What Makes Meat Halal explains this topic in more detail. Items that are labelled “halal” go through a specific process, including blessing the items in accordance with Islamic requirements. However, even after these processes, the scope of halal’s permissible foods is wider than many assume. For example, most plant-based goods and globally popular brands (Nestle, Welch’s, Coca-Cola) will more than likely be considered halal.

Today, many customers are more conscious about what they consume and numerous grocery chains have added halal options so people with dietary restrictions will feel confident in their food purchases. This increased exposure and demand has made halal-certified foods a welcome addition for many shoppers. Consider adding some of these products to your store and feel confident knowing that you are providing your valuable communities with food that EVERYONE will enjoy!

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