Chocolates tempt Mus­lim taste­buds

Prod­ucts get ha­lal-cer­ti­fied

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By JESSY ED­WARDS

From a Porirua fac­tory, Whit­taker’s is try­ing to break into the $150 mil­lion Malaysian mar­ket – but it won’t be able to tempt Mus­lims with its al­co­hol-in­fused rum and raisin bars.

The choco­latier’s range of 27 Mus­lim- friendly ha­lal- cer­ti­fied slabs, bars and blocks is now be­ing shipped to Malaysia in tem­per­a­ture-con­trolled ships.

Ha­lal- cer­ti­fied prod­ucts are ones con­sid­ered fit for con­sump­tion, ac­cord­ing to Is­lamic di­etary guide­lines.

They can­not in­clude un­law­ful or ‘‘haram’’ in­gre­di­ents, such as al­co­hol or an­i­mal fats, and must not come into con­tact with haram sub­stances dur­ing pro­cess­ing, trans­port or pack­ag­ing.

Whit­taker’s head of in­ter­na­tional mar­kets Matt Whit­taker said the com­pany be­came for­mally ha­lal-cer­ti­fied three years ago, ini­tially mov­ing into the Mid­dle East, and had now started sell­ing in Malaysia, where more than 60 per cent of the 30 mil­lion in­hab­i­tants were Mus­lim.

‘‘Choco­late doesn’t re­ally have too much of an is­sue be­cause there are no pig by-prod­ucts used in choco­late tra­di­tion­ally, so gen­er­ally speak­ing it’s very easy to be ha­lal-cer­ti­fied,’’ Whit­taker said.

How­ever, ri­val Cad­bury re­cently en­coun­tered a storm in the Mus­lim mar­ket when some of its choco­late pro­duced a false pos­i­tive test for pig DNA.

Cad­bury Malaysia was forced to re­call batches of ha­lal choco­late last month af­ter a pe­ri­odic in­spec­tion by the Malaysian Min­istry of Health.

Sam­ples were tested again and cleared, but not be­fore 20 Malay- Mus­lim groups had called for a boy­cott of Cad­bury prod­ucts.

Whit­taker’s ha­lal cer­ti­fi­ca­tion has come from the New Zealand Fed­er­a­tion of Is­lamic As­so­ci­a­tions. Chief ex­ec­u­tive Sul­tan Eu­soff said there were spe­cial con­sid­er­a­tions when cer­ti­fy­ing choco­late.

‘‘ The im­por­tant thing is the dairy milk, and how are they sourc­ing the dairy milk. Are there any more an­i­mal prod­ucts in the items, ie an­i­mal fats or other ad­di­tives like thick­ener or stuff like that?’’ he said.

Other ques­tion­able ad­di­tives could in­clude vanilla flavour­ing that might con­tain al­co­hol, or whey that could be de­rived from milk cur­dled with en­zymes from non-ha­lal slaugh­tered an­i­mals.

Eu­soff said the value of the Mus­lim mar­ket was some­where in the tril­lions, and the fed­er­a­tion had noted an in­crease in New Zealand com­pa­nies seek­ing ha­lal cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

‘‘We can­not un­der­es­ti­mate the Mus­lim mar­ket or the ha­lal mar­ket. We are keen to plug into the ha­lal mar­ket more – com­pa­nies with ice­cream prod­ucts and other food prod­ucts are com­ing around more and seek­ing cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.’’

Ra­madan, a holy month of fast­ing and wor­ship for Mus­lims, has just be­gun. It is also a time for in­creased sweet con­sump­tion, with Mus­lims break­ing their fast at sun­set.

New mar­ket: Matt Whit­taker, head of Whit­taker’s in­ter­na­tional mar­kets, shows off a sam­ple of ha­lal-ap­proved choco­late in Kuala Lumpur.

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