New products, transparent labelling and value: How food firms can achieve halal sales success as demand soars in Asia

By Lester Wan

- Last updated on GMT

Asia holds vast potential for halal food firms with new product development, labelling transparency and competitively-priced products. ©GettyImages
Asia holds vast potential for halal food firms with new product development, labelling transparency and competitively-priced products. ©GettyImages
As home to four of the five fastest-growing Muslim-majority countries and boasting increasing levels of disposable incomes, Asia is offering halal food firms vast growth potential — but only if they embrace new product development, labelling transparency and are competitively priced.

These were some of the key takeaways from Euromonitor’s New Consumerism and the Global Halal Market​ ​webinar, which highlighted that the global Muslim population grew by 18% in the past 10 years, versus the entire global population growth of 11%.

At the same time, disposable income of the top five global Muslim markets — India, Indonesia, Iran, Nigeria and Pakistan — have risen by 257%.

Emil Fazira, senior analyst, Food and Nutrition, Euromonitor, pointed out that these growth figures and various market trends reflect huge opportunities for the food industry.

Euromonitor’s Ethical Labels system tracks retail sales of halal-labelled packaged food and drinks across 26 markets globally, with eight of them in Asia. Within this coverage, the biggest halal market in Asia is Indonesia, worth US$24.5b in 2017, followed by China and the Philippines.

Product integration

The fastest-growing halal markets from 2016 to 2021 are forecast to be Indonesia, the Philippines, Hong Kong and then Taiwan.

Non-Muslim majority countries such as Singapore and Philippines were also found to be major markets for halal packaged food and drink, at US$1.4b and US$7.5b respectively. Fazira said this was partly due to the integration and acceptance of halal products in the general community, as well as the strengthening halal infrastructure in these markets.

Other countries in the region may have a small Muslim population but a significantly-large halal market. China has a halal market worth US$14.4b while in Australia it is worth US$1.3b.

The analyst also stated that the Muslim-majority markets in Asia have a halal consumer median age of 18 to 30 — comprising mostly young adults with increasing spending power.

“In markets like Malaysia and Indonesia, young adults are actually wealthier or earning more on average than their seniors. This shows that consumers from these markets are also better able to afford such lifestyles compared to the older generation,” ​said Fazira.

Halal means quality, and business?

While the demand for halal products is clearly growing, food firms can’t take rising sales for granted.

Euromonitor pointed out that recognised halal accreditation of products, as opposed to just ingredients, was essential and would help to capture consumer trust.

Furthermore, the analysts pointed out that in some Asian markets, halal certification was synonymous with a higher standard of quality, because products have gone through stringent tests in the process to be accredited.

This is also especially the case in the UAE, which outside of Asia has the most optimistic forecast growth in percentage of halal packaged food and drink sales from 2016 to 2021 due to its domestic economy as well as accreditation improvements and greater trade with South East Asia.

Fazira said that packaging trends showed that transparency in a product’s packaging and reliable accreditation was also gaining traction among consumers.

“Yet, it is also important to understand other factors important to consumers, such as pricing, packaging, distribution channel, and so on, in order to balance halal certification with other consumer values, especially as the commitment or practice of spiritual beliefs may vary,” ​she said.

Megatrend momentum

Additionally, Euromonitor highlighted three current megatrends that businesses are tapping into in order to connect with consumers more effectively, so as to better market to them — Connected Consumers, Premiumisation and Experience More.

The analysts said that this is especially useful for emerging brands to stand out among non-halal competitors.

One example is a recent Euromonitor survey that showed, for these halal consumers, friends and family recommendations, rewards programmes and peer reviews have a huge influence on purchase.

Another survey revealed that millennials are more likely to look for new specialties and varieties compared to Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Z consumers. Hence, leveraging upon social media and launching novel products may be effective strategies in attracting young adult Muslim consumers.

“Within Asia, the young median age of population is also contributing to the growth of halal products, especially when considered alongside disposable income and the growing Internet penetration,”​ said Emil.

Moreover, Emil said that when young adults are internationally educated or have a multinational network, they are more likely to be highly influenced by other cultures as well as trends within non-halal products. This exposure expands their demand for more product options in the market.


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