Halal Certification – Why, What and How?

Halal Certification – Why, What and How?

Halal Certification – a buzz word used by many within the Islamic ecosystem, having enormous traction and attention from all over the world. Many commentators believe Halal certification to be an unnecessary process of oversight within the supply chain; yet missing the underlying principle of compliance and confidence. Need is a mother of invention – is that right?

What is it? – How is it done? 

In this day and age, food production has become an increasingly technological process involving scientifically sophisticated equipment and complex supply chains tangled with technically designed process flows to make the product of expected quality with lowest cost.

Halal certification is an assurance mechanism that independently verifies that a particular product has been produced in accordance with the Islamic ethos adhering to the applicable halal standard. In addition to product certification, halal certification can be employed to scrutinize the compatibility of new technologies and processes. It is similar in principle to how Organic certification assures against Organic standards which in turn reflects consumer expectations of the product’s credentials.

Halal certification is a systematic procedure to assess the manufacturing process and to scrutinize the raw materials and finished products against the applicable halal standards according to the predetermined scope. This process is undertaken by halal certification bodies who carry out comprehensive technical audits of the manufacturing facilities, assessing and analysing raw materials and finished products against the prescribed halal criteria. The final decision on certification of any product is generally taken by a committee comprising Islamic Scholar(s) and technically competent officers of the halal certification body that are independent of the auditing process.

Why do it?

Halal certification is required for several purposes depending on the type of products sold and the intended market to access. It is important to note that some export markets cannot be accessed without a halal certificate.

For halal meat production, halal certification is of utmost importance due to the strict halal slaughtering rules and requirements. Halal certification for meat is usually required for exports to substantiate the halal claim made by the producer/exporter. Likewise, any product containing animal derived substances (e.g., beef flavour, animal rennet, gelatine etc.) may require halal certification for exports where the halal claim is made. Regulators in several countries including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Morocco, Turkey and others require halal certificates for meat and meat derived products for port clearance prior to granting market access. 

In many countries in Europe and Asia, several retailers and distributors require manufacturers to provide them with the halal certification for their products destined for domestic markets. This facilitates the market to extend the offering to Muslim consumers in respective countries. Hence a significant contribution to the countries’ eco-system.

With the rising awareness of halal requirements and complex food supply chain, Muslim consumers require the availability and accessibility of more and more halal certified food products in local markets.  

Generally, halal certification paves the way to mitigate several barriers and challenges including:

  1. Market access, 
  2. port clearance, 
  3. trade/regulatory requirements, and,
  4. consumer confidence

In many instances, halal certification is deemed necessary for impactful marketing campaigns by depicting the halal logo along with other quality certification(s) the manufacturer or supplier already have.


Halal is an Arabic word meaning ‘permissible’. The opposite of Halal is Haram meaning ‘forbidden’. Although it is most commonly used in food the term Halal applies to many considerations for Muslim consumers. In some parts of the world the scope of halal applies to meat production only. However more and more the term  halal is applied to a variety of sectors such as

  1. Food & Beverage Production
  2. Cosmetics & Personal Care Goods (FMCG)
  3. Pharmaceuticals
  4. Logistics, Retailing and Warehousing
  5. Travel & Tourism
  6.  Financial Services
  7. Media & Recreation

In Malaysia, Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates, the scope of halal certification has extended to include 1-4 above and respective halal standards have been developed and implemented for domestic trade and imports.

A tremendous amount of awareness and development is underway In Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, Turkey and Spain on halal tourism, whereas a significant amount of work is being done in the UK, the UAE, Qatar and Singapore in halal financial services. Media & Recreation includes the development of family-friendly TV series and theme-parks.

Challenges of gaining halal certification

Despite increased market access and brand recognition, halal certification project comes with its own challenges which may become overwhelming for a complex product with a dynamic supply chain.

A. Cost

Halal certification comes at certain costs that are pre-determined and chargeable by the halal certification body under the halal certification contract. It has been noticed that the cost of halal certification has been a prohibitive factor for small businesses with limited number of customers or complex products with a large number of ingredients. Risk-based certification cost absorbed by the wider supply base, broad product range and target markets with similar labelling rules will likely render the project economically viable for most businesses.

B. Accreditation/recognition of certification – Choosing the HCB

Some halal certifications do not work in all the markets the business wishes to access or supplies to. This is due to non-recognition or lack of accreditation of halal certification bodies in some countries. In many countries, a scheme of recognition/approval or accreditation of certification bodies is in place. The certification body must be recognized or accredited to certify certain types of products destined for respective countries having such schemes in place. The countries where accreditation or recognition schemes for certification bodies are implemented include Malaysia, Indonesia, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Pakistan, Turkey, South Korea and Morocco. 

To mitigate this challenge, the manufacturers/suppliers of halal products may have to:

  1. obtain halal certificates from various certification bodies to satisfy access requirements for different countries; or,
  2. choose (or shift to) the halal certification body that is recognized and accredited to certify for all target markets (contractual obligations of termination may apply)

C. Lack of internal skills and knowledge

From manufacturers’ perspective a Halal certification project involves substantial initial work in documentation, training, administration, quality assurance and supply chain traceability. The manufacturer may not have the resources with appropriate level of knowledge and expertise in applicable halal standards. To harmonize the expectations and to speak the same jargon, many certification and accreditation bodies have developed training programs for halal auditors, technical and QA managers, halal management teams and supervisors on halal management, halal policy development, halal production and halal supply chain. The halal certification body or the independent halal consultants are the first port-of-call for more guidance.  

D. Market-specific halal standards

Some markets require adherence to the specific halal standards that they follow or prefer. This could include halal slaughter without stunning, producing beverages containing ethanol below certain limits, and producing sweets/confectionery without gelatine (E441) or carmine (E120) etc. In those cases, manufacturers need to develop different product specifications for halal approval and certification. Each product variant will be reviewed and certified under a unique code to meet customer requirements. This adds to costs whilst extending the certification process and its timeframe.

Pricing models for halal certification 

Historically, halal certification fee used to have a fixed annual price tag determined by the size of the manufacturer. With evolving halal standards, underlying ISO and accreditation requirements and increased cost of trained professionals, certification bodies have been upskilling their teams, investing in infrastructure, and expanding halal scopes to offer. This has resulted in more structured pricing models.

The halal certification is generally site-specific. The number of manufacturing sites in certification scope are directly proportional to certification fees.

Cost based structure:

Internal cost of auditors, admin support & logistics plus markup

 Audit fee: £500 per man day

Annual certification: £100 per product under the certification scope

Value based structure

This structure focuses on the client’s perception of value. This could include the element of added value by training client’s personnel, marketing and media support and export assistance. The fee is quoted according to the activities performed alongside auditing and certification.

Throughput based – Exports 

The certification fee could also be determined by the amount of throughput that is subject to specific halal consignment certificates for export clearance. Some certification bodies invoice the manufacturer/exporter as a fee per kg of consignment, whereas a fixed export certificate fee model also prevails in some countries.


15p per kg of meat certified for export

£50 per pallet of products certified for export

£500 per export certificate issued – regardless of the quantity involved

Depending on the trading markets, product range and size of manufacturers’ operations, a mix of the above models may also be applied by the halal certification body. We recommend all parties involved in halal certification to explore the options, consider alternatives, and carefully review the certification contract (setting out respective obligations) before proceeding.

Way forward – further evolution

We anticipate that the halal sector will continue to evolve over the years leading to these events.

The inevitable rise in awareness and global demand for halal products and services due to an increasing global Muslim population with higher disposal income 

The continual training & development of the certification sector producing qualified halal professionals  

The introduction of halal standards and certifiers’ approval/accreditation scheme in more importing countries 

Collaborations, mergers & acquisitions both in the industry and in the certification sector would continue to overcome the challenges highlighted above. More strategic partnerships (e.g. cross border halal certifier collaboration) should emerge creating the pool of shared resources and modern technology with robust governance.

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