The need to provide halal certification has grown out of globalisation and migration. Second- and third-generation Muslims who have grown up in the West hanker after Western and international cuisine such as pizza, burgers, and Chinese takeaways - but still want to comply with halal principals.
For Naturex, which has its headquarters in Avignon, France, this represents "a real market opportunity". And in order to tap it, it has obtained halal approval from the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFNCA) across its four plants, in France, Morocco, New Jersey, and California.
IFNCA estimates the worldwide Muslim headcount to be in the region of 1.4bn, 30m of whom are living in Europe. Although European muslims make up a relatively small proportion of the continent's overall population, according to halal food market expert Nordin Abdullah, executive director of Malaysian Kasehdia, they "have huge purchasing power in comparison with those in the Middle East or North Africa".
The Halal food market has never been measured but estimates range from US$150 to 500 bn.
Most of the halal requirements govern meat and animal-related ingredients. Foods containing ingredients such as gelatin, enzymes, emulsifiers, are considered Mashbooh (questionable) because the origin of the ingredients is not known.
A spokesperson for the company told NutraIngredients.com that it means Naturex can assure that nothing that contravenes halal standards is used in any stage of the extraction or formulation process.
He stressed that Naturex did not have to rethink its existing procedures in order to obtain approval, but that it hinges on maintaining complete traceability - an area in which the company was already very strong.
Naturex is by no means the first company in the sector to recognise the necessity of halal approval in today's multicultural marketplace. In April Fortitech also received approval from the IFNCA for its Danish nutrient premix facility.
Other companies in the nutrition and supplement sector with certified Halal offerings include Aloecorp, McNeil Nutritionals, Ocean Nutrition Canada and Reliv International.