Growing number of Australian manufacturers embracing Halal and Kosher certification

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 19th September 2008

The Old Colonial Cookie Company has announced that Butterfingers Shortbread and its gourmet variety, Lander’s Australian Bites, have both now received Halal and Kosher certification, as a range of Australian food manufacturers and retailers begin to update their products to ensure they can appeal to a wider market.

The Old Colonial Cookie Company is now also producing gluten free shortbread in response to growing demand for wheat-free products, with the Butterfingers Pure Butter Gluten Free Shortbread product offering.

Halal and Kosher foods require strict preparation methods in line with religious customs, but manufacturers in Australia have begun to realise that – despite the cost of getting Halal and Kosher certification – market opportunities can quickly outweigh such costs.

With an estimated global Muslim population of around 1.8 billion, the market for Halal food is rumoured to be around US$500 billion (although it could be up to $2 trillion). In Australia, where the Muslim population is 340,390 (according to ABS Census figures in 2006), the market is currently at around $1 billion. Exporters have also had some luck in the marketplace with Australian exports to Muslim countries at $3.7 billion in the five years from 2001-02, according to Halal Australia. In fact, it is suggested that just over ten per cent of global trade in agri-food products is Halal certified. The general focus has been on meat and dairy products, but Halal certification extends to a wide range of food products.

In recent years, Australian companies have been co-operating with the country of Brunei (and Austrade) to improve their ability to tap into the Halal market, with Australia’s reputation for high quality food a key factor behind success.

Australia was the first non-Muslim country to place Halal certification under legislation and, according to the Australian Halal Food Directory, there are currently four recognized certifying bodies in Australia for Halal food.

The Kosher food market, while smaller than the Halal market, is also being considered for its potential as a niche industry for food producers. The 2006 Census discovered the Australian Jewish population was 88,826.

Like Halal, Kosher food rules apply to the food production, storage, transportation, distribution, preparation and final consumption. Among the most commercially viable markets for Kosher food exports are the United States of America, Israel, Canada, England and New Zealand.

There are currently over 10 million Kosher-only consumers worldwide, although studies suggest that the products appeal to more than just the Jewish population. Muslims and diet-conscious consumers have been among others to seek out Kosher food.

Kosher Australia is considered the foremost Kosher Certification Body in Australia.