You have decided to have your products Halal certified, Congratulations! Now, the question is who should you choose in the midst of many Halal certifiers?
Once you have decided to have your product certified Halal, you will need to choose a Halal certifying agency who can meet the needs of both your company and your target market. First of all, you will need to find a Halal certifier that operates in your region. Some certifying bodies only work locally while others have international capacity. The World Halal Food Council, a highly respected international organization of Halal certifiers, lists 11 agencies that operate in the Americas, in addition to those based in Asia, Africa, Europe, and Oceania. Once you have identified some potential agencies in your region, make sure they have the capacity to certify both the quantity and range of products you wish to have certified. There is no need to deal with more than one certifying agency - choose an organization like ISA that operates in every sector of Halal food production and already works with dozens of major international brands.
Second, you will need to ensure that the authenticity of the Halal certifier is accepted everywhere you plan to sell your products. Some countries have official Halal standards or government certifying bodies, so you will need to investigate what exactly is needed in your target market. Many international Halal certifiers are equipped to certify under different national schemes, for example the Indonesian or Malaysian schemes. Some countries, including Malaysia, only allow importation of meat products if they are certified Halal by a recognized foreign Halal certifier. Islamic Services of America is one of only two American Halal certifying agencies (page 55) that meet the strict standards of the Malaysian Department of Islamic Development.
Whatever your target market, you will need to choose a certifier with a strong grounding in Islamic jurisdiction and wide acceptance by Islamic scholars. This ensures that the certification of your product will be trusted by Muslim consumers. This is especially important in the age of social media, when information – and misinformation – can spread quickly if there are any doubts about legitimacy. The seal of an organization endorsed by respected religious authorities will counter this kind of confusion and doubt.
Another aspect to consider is how easily you will be able to communicate your Halal certification to customers. If your product is sold directly to consumers, the best way to do this is with a recognizable Halal seal. Choose a certifier with a widely recognized symbol. This ensures that consumers looking for Halal products will instantly recognize your product as certified Halal. Depending on where you plan to market your product, you may want to go with a Halal certifier that is well known and accepted in that region. You should also look for a seal that will be self-explanatory even if consumers are not familiar with the particular agency. For example, any seal should include the word Halal and the name of the certifier so that consumers can easily verify it. Islamic Services of America (ISA) has a distinctive seal that includes the word Halal in both English and Arabic.
Finally, consider the unique needs of your business and how a certifying agency might be able to help you meet them. Many agencies can work with you to help prepare you for certification, providing information and resources. Some may be able to assist you with paperwork and providing the appropriate documents to purchasers or other institutions. In addition, they may be able to help you communicate your new Halal status to potential consumers. While the certification process may seem complex, choosing the right Halal certifier ensures that it will go as smoothly and benefit your business as much as possible.