US – The founder and CEO of Saffron Road Foods, Adnan Durrani received last year’s first-ever Islamic Economy Awards in the halal food sector and, since that award, his business has grown by leaps and bounds.
With Muslim consumerism as its foundation and pluralistic values as its base, Saffron Road offers sustainably farmed, natural, antibiotic free, and 100 per cent vegetarian food harvested on company-owned farms. This natural food company seeks to be inclusive and celebrates all faiths with values that are multi-ethnic, and socially responsible.
“Our mission is to restore the ‘spiritual sacredness to food’, and bring back a simple mindfulness of the abundant commonality of all humanity in this complex world,” said Adnan Durrani. Though this philosophy may sound lofty and idealistic. However, it has propelled Saffron Road to heights of success in the business world.
According to AC Nielson, Saffron Road is the fastest growing frozen natural brand among all the US brands. Launched just four years ago, the brand has registered triple-digit year-on-year growth, and is the only national Halal brand in the US — serving the needs of eight million American Muslims. Saffron Road is additionally the only national US brand that donates five per cent of its sales for Zakat during the Holy Month of Ramadan, having an exponential impact on the American Muslim community. The company witnessed a sudden rise in its fortunes when it was selected for the Islamic Economy award.
Durrani believes the global Halal food industry has great potential and noted that while his company’s primary markets were the US and Canada, “Winning the award has opened up new opportunities for us with inquiries for export into the UAE and the wider MENA region.”
Durrani’s is not a solitary example of commendable pursuits in the Islamic economy landscape that have benefitted from the limelight. Just one year after winning the 2013 Islamic Economy Award, some of his fellow winners also have truly inspirational stories to relate that have been helped to reality.
Muhammad Chaudry, President of the Islamic Food & Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA) believes the award has greatly stepped-up awareness for this nascent sector. IFANCA commenced operations in 1982 when a group of Muslim food scientists recognised the need for an official body to certify food products for Muslims. Chaudry said, “The Award’s validation will help us boost our services in the market. I look forward to seeing the region become self-sufficient in Halal food, pharma and personal care products. We will continue our involvement in bringing producers and consumers together and offering Halal workshops to further raise awareness of the benefits of Halal products in the region and across the world.”
SETTING SUKUK TRENDS
And it is not just global players who have benefited either. Dubai based Majid Al Futtaim Group was recognized for its MAF Sukuk issued in 2012 that served as an important milestone for the company and for the Middle East capital market.
The deal marked the culmination of a well-orchestrated process of a private family owned firm in the Middle East, strategically diversifying its funding sources beyond conventional bank financing. More importantly, the market absorbed the revolutionary issuance — it came from a non-sovereign, non-Government related entity providing much-needed diversification in the Sukuk space. The structure of the Sukuk, as a Wakala previously used by financial institutions, was reapplied successfully in the corporate context.
Shrimati Damal, S.V.P. of Majid al Futtaim Holding LLC, said, “Our group has witnessed significant growth since winning the award. The Islamic Sukuk issue was a trendsetter for the company and for Dubai and the region around. Dubai EXPO 2020 promises bright prospects for Dubai’s economy and its role as the capital of Islamic economy, and we see cohesive plans across various sectors and Islamic Sukuk in particular.
“Our business is focused on creating great moments and lasting memories for the community at large every day. Our contribution to social and economic welfare also enables transforming economic landscapes through creating jobs, increasing DGP growth and generating tourism, all of which play an invaluable role in the UAE’s future wellbeing.”
Also representing the region at last year’s outing was SEDCO Capital, Saudi Arabia’s fully owned subsidiary of SEDCO Holding with a presence in emerging and developed markets of Asia-Pacific, the Americas, Europe, the Far East, and the wider Gulf and Middle East and North Africa regions. SEDCO Capital was awarded first in the Islamic Funds category.
Hasan Al Jabri – CEO, SEDCO Capital, said, “SEDCO has expanded significantly since the last award. We have developed new strategies that can be implemented equally effectively in any Christian city like Luxembourg or in Muslim dominant Saudi Arabia in addition to designing products that offer our discerning clients the most innovative and well worked portfolio to pick from.”
The company successfully desined environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles into its two equity funds, widening their appeal to Islamic investors. Islamic funds follow religious principles such as bans on alcohol and gambling. “We hope this move will see its funds appeal to investors beyond traditional Islamic markets in the Middle East and Southeast Asia and encourage responsible investment. At the macro level, the move could nudge peer groups to gradually move in the same direction and lead to sustainability. We appreciate the award for raising awareness for Islamic funding, which has demonstrated its resilience time after time,” said Al Jabri.