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Halal and kosher certifications have broadening appeal while aligning with clean label

Halal and kosher certifications meet specific nutritional needs aligning with religious practices, but industry is taking note of how these target groups are being reexamined. Moreover, halal and kosher certifications meet similar naturality, clean label and food safety criteria that consumers are increasingly seeking in food products and dietary supplements. Speaks with Lycored and DSM about how awareness of the benefits specific to these certifications continues to shape the nutrition industry.

“Traditionally, of course, [kosher and halal certifications] meet the needs of Jewish and Muslim consumers, [respectively], but the target audience has expanded over time,” says Mohamed Aly, Vice President of Operation at Lycored.

Kosher and halal certification can help nutrition and nutraceutical companies increase their market share, as it removes a barrier to some consumer groups. “Beyond this, it also represents adherence to a higher level of standards that are now the norm. Companies that don’t meet them are few and far between and their products are generally not considered high-quality.”

“For our nutritional ingredients to be accessible to the widest population, we comply with these requirements whenever possible. Essential nutrition is ‘essential’ for all people regardless of geographical location or religion,” echoes Brent MacDonald, Director Global Marketing – Nutritional Lipids, DSM Nutritional Products.

All of DSM nutritional lipids ingredients meet safety and quality industry standards, MacDonald explains. Simultaneously, both Lycored’s Lumenato and Lycomato ingredients are Certified Kosher (OU) and Certified Halal (IFANCA).

A holistic approach to food safety
Plant-based supplements are growing in market share, parallel with the clean label trend. “Looking at the gummy market, one of the biggest trends is growing demand for pectin – plant-based – gummies versus gelatin. So for many consumers, looking for kosher and halal products is another way to find products of a higher standard,” Aly of Lycored states. Innova Market Insights highlights that in 2019, three in four new global launches with a kosher claim were indeed supplements (74 percent).

Halal and kosher certifications also seem to go hand-in-hand with “suitable for vegetarian/vegan diets” labels, non-GMO verifications and free-from certifications. Recent examples from this month include DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences’s latest Non-GMO certification for its seaweed-based SeaGel capsules, which are halal- and kosher-certified. Meanwhile, Arla Foods Ingredients launched a new hydrolyzed whey protein ingredient last week. Its halal and kosher certifications support a healthy, nature-friendly image alongside emphasizing the ingredient is derived from grass- and forage-fed cows.

The Abrahamic “clean label”
The term halal (Arabic for “permissible” or “lawful”) is particularly associated with Islamic dietary laws that ensure food is prepared that adheres to Islamic law requirements. The Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA) delineates all foods are considered halal except:

  • Pork and other pig byproducts.
  • Animals not properly slaughtered according to the Islamic method or dead before slaughtering.
  • Alcoholic drinks and intoxicants.
  • Carnivorous animals and birds of prey.
  • Blood and blood by-products.
  • Foods contaminated with any materials from the above categories.

Foods containing ingredients such as gelatin, enzymes, emulsifiers and flavors are questionable (“mashbooh”), because the origin of these ingredients, or components thereof, may be haram (forbidden). Likewise, according to OU Kosher, kosher laws originate from the Bible. The primary categories of food items that are not kosher include fowl and fish, most insects and any shellfish or reptile. In addition, kosher species of meat and fowl must be slaughtered in a prescribed manner and meat and dairy products may not be manufactured or consumed together.

MacDonald affirms that kosher ingredients are predominantly requested in the North American market, while halal-certified products are demanded almost worldwide. Moreover, these ingredients are requested from consumers “of all ages and demographic groups and geographies.”

Innova Market Insights data highlights that in 2019, nearly one in three new launches featuring halal claims were launched in Indonesia (30 percent), followed by Malaysia (9.5 percent) and Thailand (9 percent). Meanwhile, nearly two in five new launches in 2019 featuring kosher claims were launched in the US (63 percent), followed by Canada (7 percent) and Ireland (5 percent).

Although consumers are increasingly craving food safety verifications, providing such certifications is easier said than done. Aly states the main challenge for Lycored is pricing because kosher and halal ingredients tend to cost more. However, the company overcomes that challenge by having a large network of suppliers.

Alongside such additional costs, MacDonald notes other factors needed to be taken into consideration, such as sourcing specific certified raw materials, production under Rabbinic supervision as well as documentation and regular auditing of certification bodies.

Regardless, MacDonald regards both certifications as “valued attributes,” which has been the case for many years and does not expect it to change much in the years to come. He maintains that DSM will continue to offer kosher- and halal-certified ingredients whenever possible. Meanwhile, Aly considers both kosher and halal to be “now very much the industry standard.”

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