Halal Beef In Alberta
The world’s halal market could be a new frontier for the province’s cattle ranchers, according to Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. Halal, which means “permitable” according to the Qur’an, is a designation and means of preparation that, so far, has seen little attention in Alberta’s beef industry. However, Grant Winton, unit manager with the province’s ministry of agriculture, says demand for halal beef, both at home and abroad, will likely change this.
“We’re always looking for new opportunities for Albertan ranchers, producers, and exporters,” Winton says, adding that the province regularly sends its staff abroad to tout Alberta-made products in international markets. “We have quite a good reputation around the world for the quality of our beef. This is one more way of building our profile.”
How much Alberta beef ends up in, say, the Middle East, Malaysia, and Indonesia, however, comes down to a matter of demand. In its ideal form, getting into these markets could represent a “massive” increase in revenue for the province, Winton says.
In 2015, the largest buyers of Alberta beef, in order, are The United States of America (166,074 tonnes), China (29,749 tonnes), Mexico (17,836 tonnes), and Japan (9,799 tonnes).
In 2016, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency mandated that, in order for food to be sold with a halal label, an outside agency with experience in the field must be present on-site to certify it, such as the Alberta Halal Monitoring and Certification Council.
Imad Kaddoura, director at Edmonton’s Al Rashid Mosque agrees with the department’s assessment, stating that global and domestic halal markets grow every year, and offer a great opportunity for Albertan and Canadian beef producers.
According to Kaddoura, the global market for halal products is around $3 trillion USD. Other sources online suggest different numbers, but they all tend to be in the millions or billions. Additionally, this market includes things like candy, clothing, finance, travel, pharmaceuticals, and other goods and services one might not think of.
“Most people think halal only relates to meat. That could not be further from the truth,” he says.
The number of people who follow Islam is also increasing both abroad and across Canada, and non-muslims are adopting the halal standard in some ways, he says.
For a product to be deemed halal, it must be made with certain specifications. In the case of beef, this, in short, boils down to a set of standards surrounding how a producer kills a cow. According to Kaddoura, the animals must be treated humanely, kept in a healthy and clean environment, and, when it comes time for their slaughter, a clean and sharp knife must be used to minimize pain.
“Animals should not be slaughtered in front of other animals … They should not be abused. They should not be handled roughly,” he says. “When it comes time for slaughter, an animal should not be thirsty. It should not be hungry. The animal should never be treated in any bad way, shape , or form.”
Similarly, there are specifications on the exact part of the cow’s throat that should be slit to reduce the amount of blood leftover in the cow’s body, and to reduce the pain the animal feels during the process.
“The person slaughtering the animal should also say some verses from the Holy Qur’an, or say ‘This is in the name of God,’” Kaddoura says.
“When slaughter is done with halal standards, it is in line with Alberta’s animal welfare and traceability guidelines,” Winton said.
Around 25 years ago, when Kaddoura and his wife first moved to Edmonton, there were only a handful of specialty shops that sold halal meat. Now, however, most major grocers stock halal products, and the number of butchers that offer halal meat has increased. The same goes for restaurants.
“The mainstream industry is warming up and adopted halal because they can see the potential of this market,” Kaddoura says.
According to Thomas Lynch-Staunton, government relations manager with Alberta Beef Producers, there is indeed a growing market for halal meat around the world, and the province is capable of producing enough beef to meet the demand.
“The decision by our processors and exporters, regarding the pursuit of these opportunities, will depend on the standards and rules of the halal certification, the extra costs needed to produce halal beef, the actual size and strength of the halal market, and our ability to produce halal beef within our own regulations, codes of practice, and safety protocols.”
This article is originally Published on www.vueweekly.com