Sweet like sacred chocolate: halal sweets go head to head

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Related tags: Islam, Halal

Sweet like sacred chocolate: halal sweets go head to head
The sweet-toothed followers of Islam - the second largest religion in the UK - will soon be able to sample a taste of the good life now that the...

The sweet-toothed followers of Islam - the second largest religion in the UK - will soon be able to sample a taste of the good life now that the premium trend has caught on among halal confectioners.

The term 'halal' is usually associated with meat that has been slaughtered in accordance with Islamic principles. However, many chocolates, biscuits and sweets contain alcohol or gelatine, enzymes, emulsifiers and preservatives that are derived from animals, which have not been prepared to Islamic Law. If halal confectionery contains any animal-derived ingredients, they should be traceable to halal sources.

Given that it is such a specialist market, you might wonder why firms would take things a step further by offering premium ranges.

Ian Busby, finance director of halal confectioner Ummah Foods explains: "The countlines we had before only worked for significant volumes. In contrast, the mark-up on premium is appealing and it is in demand."

Despite the growing number of premium confectionery brands, Busby is confident that his products will succeed. "Although you've got Green & Black's and Lindt, we think that our proposition is going to stand out," he says.

But the firm is about to face some hot competition as Marhaba Food also plans to launch a new range of halal confectionery, including premium chocolate, yoghurt bars and chewing gum.

Independent auditor the Halal Audit Company checks every stage of production to ensure the products are in accordance with the Malaysian halal standards - the only government to have set out guidelines for the production of halal foods. "It's not such an easy thing to get the halal logo," says a Marhaba spokeswoman.

The launch is being timed to coincide with this autumn's Ramadan and discussions are underway with potential retailers.

But Ummah remains unphased by its rival. "We're not convinced that Marhaba will offer any serious competition. We've got better relations with the supermarkets [Ummah supplies Asda, Morrison and Tesco] and they're tough nuts to crack," says Busby.

Related topics: NPD