Halal Certification: A gateway to the growing Muslim consumer base

Interview with Tomás Guerrero, Director of the Halal Trade and Marketing Centre

This is the second article in our series on regulation and compliance. Don’t forget to check out the first — “Demystifying “free from” claims for the UK: What you need to know” by Sam Conebar.

Now, on to Halal certification.

One of the many fascinating things I learned about Halal food recently from the Halal Trade and Marketing Centre is that it is not a monolith. In different parts of the world, what constitutes “Halal” is different. In fact, the definition of Halal is affected by two things – geographical location and cultural acceptance. 

  • For example, in some Muslim-majority countries in Central Asia (like Kyrgyzstan or Uzbekistan), horse meat is considered a delicacy. But in the Arab world, consuming horse meat is considered “Haram” (or forbidden). 

  • In Iran, seafood such as shrimp or crustaceans is not allowed even though seafood is considered Halal by the majority of the Muslim world.

In today’s edition of Market Shake, we delve into the world of Halal certification, and the opportunities and challenges it presents for F&B companies. 

Muslims account for a quarter of the global population and companies are keen on catering to this rapidly growing consumer base, not just across Asia, the Middle East and Africa, but also in the West. However, it is vital for global brands to address the dietary and religious requirements when it comes catering to the Muslim consumer in different markets. This is where Halal certification comes into play. Halal certification has become one of the fastest growing certifications within the F&B industry over the last five years and a must-have for brands looking to tap into consumers in emerging Muslim-majority economies.

To learn about Halal certification and its intricacies, I spoke with Tomás Guerrero, Director of the Halal Trade and Marketing Centre (HTMC). Here are highlights from the conversation.

GourmetPro: How is Halal food defined?

Tomás Guerrero: Halal is an Arabic term that means permissible or lawful as per Islamic law. It comprises a set of goods, practices, and services that are suitable for Muslims. The concept appears in the Holy Quran and refers to everything (including food and beverage) that is allowed by Islamic law and therefore, is lawful, ethical, healthy, and not abusive. 

GP: How has the definition of Halal expanded?

Tomás: The concept of Halal today has gone beyond just religious connotations. For many people, including non-Muslims, it’s synonymous with quality, healthfulness, and sustainability. Increasing cases of food contamination and fraud, the use of unfair clauses by banking and financial entities in developed economies, or the search for a healthier and more sustainable diet have led many non-Muslim consumers to also demand and consume Halal products or services. For them as well, Halal has become a guarantee of quality and health.

Tomás Guerrero

GP: What is the size of the global Halal foods market, and what rate of growth is it experiencing? 

Tomás: The Halal F&B market is seeing rapid growth. In 2022, Muslims around the world spent US$1.4 trillion on food and drinks. Of this, around US$500 billion (36%) were spent on Halal certified food and beverage products.

By 2027, the Halal F&B market is expected to reach US$1.9 trillion, growing at a CAGR of 6.1% and representing around 25% of the global spend on F&B.  

GP: What are the key factors fueling the growth of the Halal food industry?

Tomás: Three main factors are behind the rise of the Halal F&B market.

  1. A large and growing Muslim population worldwide

    There are over 2 billion Muslims as of 2024, representing 25% of the world's population. By 2060, the Muslim population is estimated to grow to nearly 3 billion. The average age of this population is 25 years, significantly younger than other groups. 

  2. The economic growth of Muslim-majority countries 

    The bulk of the Muslim population is primarily concentrated in the dynamic emerging economies, in countries that lead the world’s economic growth. The Asia-Pacific region is especially exciting, since over 60% of the world’s Muslims live here.

  3. The emergence of the middle class in Muslim-majority countries

    The strong population growth rates of Muslim-majority countries – many of them close to double digits – are leading to the emergence of a middle class with greater purchasing power and consumption patterns similar to those of Western countries.

    By 2030, two-thirds of the world's total middle class will be concentrated in the Asia-Pacific region. And the Muslim population in the region is expected to exceed 1.3 billion, accounting for over 27% of the regional population.

These three factors, together with the growing demand for Halal products and services from non-Muslim consumers, are contributing significantly to the growth and development of the different sectors that make up the Halal market today.

GP: Why is Halal certification important? 

Tomás: Muslim consumers are increasingly demanding access to quality Halal F&B products. In addition, governments of Muslim-majority countries are adopting regulatory measures and more control mechanisms to ensure the traceability of the Halal F&B chain. This has resulted in greater interest in Halal-certified products that offer assurances of quality.

The Halal certification is a technical-religious certification, which is mandatory for exporting and marketing F&B products in the 57 Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries. The certification highlights that a company and its production processes are in line with the requirements of the Halal standards and will stay so over time. 

GP: What is the process to apply for Halal certification?

Tomás: The Halal certification process includes a series of procedures and documentation as well as technical and religious requirements. There are five main phases.

Phase 1. Application and Documentary Evaluation: 

This consists of evaluating the technical-religious aptitude of the company's activity and its compliance with a series of legal requirements. The company provides the Halal certification body with all the technical documentation related to its facilities, production activities, raw materials, and products that it wishes to certify, and anything else that might be relevant.

Phase 2. Contracting: 

The company works with the Halal certifying body on the scope of the Halal certification and hires the certification services. This legally commits the company to comply with the requirements of the applicable Halal standard, as well as with the various procedures established by the Halal entity in the contract.

Phase 3. Audit: 

This step consists of an inspection by qualified auditors both from a technical and religious point of view to ensure compliance with Halal requirements. The duration and scope depends on the size of the company, its activities, and the products to be certified.

  • A qualified audit team verifies the company’s documents and visits the company’s facilities. 

  • They carry out an exhaustive and detailed evaluation of its 

    • Facilities

    • Lines

    • Equipment

    • Halal production

    • HACCP system

    • Adaptation to food safety requirements

    • Halal requirements to produce the goods for certification

  • The team also evaluates those responsible in the company for maintaining Halal compliance over time. 

  • When necessary, samples are taken to verify the absence of alcohol and pig’s traces in the production. 

The results are published in an audit report and includes the company’s compliance as well as deviations/non-conformities that must be corrected to get the certification.

Phase 4. Certification: 

In this stage, a committee of technical and religious experts – the Halal Certification Committee – evaluates the results of the audit, as well as the corrective actions proposed by the company in case of any deviations. This review of evidence collected during the previous steps will determine whether the company can be granted Halal certification.

Phase 5. Surveillance and Control: 

Companies that are granted the Halal certification are subject to control based on the obligation to make declarations of their production, when necessary, and analytical control plans for the detection of alcohol and/or pork traces, either internal or carried out by approved laboratories according to the requirements of the Halal certification body. In addition, supervision visits are established, which may or may not be communicated to the company and whose frequency is determined based on the nature of the company and the evidence obtained in the audits.

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GP: Which major certifying bodies oversee Halal certification globally?

Tomás: The growing demand for Halal F&B products has led to the emergence of numerous Halal certification bodies around the world. Globally, there are more than 400 Halal certification entities. Despite being a fragmented space, the large number of entities promotes competition and benefits companies that want to be certified.

GP: What regulatory bodies govern Halal certification and compliance processes? 

Tomás: Within the existing Halal regulatory framework, there are three types of regulatory bodies: 

  1. The Halal standardization entities of Muslim-majority countries, which are in charge of developing and establishing the norms or standards to regulate this market within their respective territories. 

  2. The Halal accreditation organizations of Muslim-majority countries, which are responsible for monitoring and verifying that the Halal certification bodies, inside and outside their respective countries, have the necessary technical and religious skills to certify according to the Halal norms or standards of their respective countries. 

  3. The Halal certifiers, which are in charge of inspecting and verifying that companies can produce goods or provide services in accordance with the Halal standards of the Muslim-majority countries where they want to commercialize these goods and services. They are responsible for auditing production systems or services of the companies interested in certification.

Image source: Halal Trade and Marketing Centre (2024)

GP: What are some of the challenges to obtaining Halal certification?


  • Halal regulations differ by country: Every country has its own regulations and compliance requirements, so companies may need separate Halal certifications to expand into different countries. 

  • Fragmented market within certifying bodies: Even though there are over 400 certifying bodies, very few have all the Halal accreditations from the Muslim-majority countries. The absence of a global Halal standard forces Halal certifiers to go country by country to obtain the corresponding Halal accreditations. This is not within the reach of all existing certifiers, given the degree of technical complexity and the costs associated with these accreditation processes. 

  • Choice of a Halal certifier: The previous issues also make it difficult for F&B companies to choose a Halal certifier. They must be especially careful when choosing a Halal certifier since an error could have serious consequences for the F&B company.


  • Halal is now universal and Halal certification is a seal of authenticity, safety, and quality for food.

  • Halal is required for consumer goods only. 

  • Halal principles can be applied to the food business across the value chain. It’s important for producers, manufacturers, exporters to ensure that their products carry the relevant certificate for the relevant country they operate in. 

About the Halal Trade and Marketing Centre

The HTMC is a Dubai Government organization for facilitating Halal trade worldwide. It operates as a global business development center, focused on the Halal economy opportunities for the industry. It enables companies to grow in the Halal space, helping them to expand their business operations in the 57 Muslim-majority countries, where Halal certification is mandatory for marketing different types of consumer goods, such as food, pharma, and cosmetics products. It serves as a one-stop shop for all market intelligence, Halal compliance, and, most importantly, growth support services. HTMC aims to provide a platform to link Halal economy companies to core Halal trade and marketing services.

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