Column Opinion

What do Muslim Millennials think about Halal certification?

According to Forbes, the Millennial segment includes people born between 1982 and 1996, making up the largest generation in American history. There are about 83.1 million Millennials in the US, representing a huge amount of purchasing power. This group shows many trends that, while not exclusive, set them apart from other generations.

Millennials care a lot about the ethical production of what they buy, including things like fair trade, locally produced, and environmentally friendly. Despite the fact that many Millennials don’t have large disposable incomes or significant savings, they are willing to pay more for products that embody their values: things like social responsibility and giving back to the community, as well as novelty.

This is especially true when it comes to food, as Millennials spend more on groceries and restaurants than other generations. Millennials as a whole are more interested in what they eat – how animals were raised, where it comes from, and how it was prepared. As a result, certifications like Halal are viewed as assurance that food and other products are pure and ethically produced, for Muslim and non-Muslim consumers alike.

Of course, Halal certification is particularly important for Muslim Millennials, especially as diet and lifestyle habits undergo dramatic shifts. As young American Muslims increasingly eat out and purchase health and beauty products such as supplements and cosmetics, the demand for Halal options will grow. Just over half of the American Muslim population falls into the Millennial category, according to Pew Research, and they are just as likely as older Muslim generations to say that religion is important to them.

As such, Muslim Millennials feel strongly about adhering to religious norms while at the same time following broader consumer trends. Companies catering to Muslims as well as Millennials in general should pay careful attention to this demographic and their unique needs.

Eating Halal at home is often easier than eating out, since consumers may cook with whole foods such as vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and fruit that are clearly Halal, in addition to a few ingredients such as meat that must be certified. However, while Millennials show some interest in preparing food at home, they typically spend more money than older generations on eating out, meal delivery services, and meal kits.

They also eat more prepared snacks and other to-go foods, according to Simon Gunzberg of Euromonitor International, a market research firm. Buying these types of prepared or semi-prepared food brings a new set of challenges for Muslim consumers. Unless a product or dish is certified, the permissibility will remain doubtful, and potential buyers may pass it up for other certified Halal packaged foods on the market. Thus, Millennial food trends are creating strong demand for a wider range of prepared and semi-prepared certified Halal food options.

In addition, the popularity of ‘Foodie’ culture – a 2019 poll by Lightspeed Mintel found that nearly half of millennials surveyed considered themselves foodies – makes millennials from all backgrounds want to be able to explore and enjoy a wide range of dishes, ingredients, and cuisines from many culinary traditions. While some people assume Halal certification is relevant only for products or cuisines from Muslim-majority countries, this is not the case.

For example, young British-born Muslims looking for Halal offerings of classic English foods such as sausage rolls, pasties, and meat pies lead Lewis Pie and Pasty Company to add a wide range of Halal certified products which have been very well received.

Beyond food products, Millennials also show a strong interest in beauty, health, and lifestyle products including make-up, specialty hair and skin care products, nutritional supplements, and high-protein meals and snacks such as shakes and bars. Most of these products require Halal certification to assure Muslim consumers that they meet the highest religious and purity standards, but it can address the preferences of a broad segment of millennials as well.

According to AlixPartners, a consumer insight service, millennials are very interested in natural and organic cosmetics as well as whether or not these products meet ethical and environmental standards. While the natural and organic beauty sector currently makes up just $11 billion of a $500 billion global industry, it is predicted to grow to $22 billion by 2024. Halal certified beauty products may be able to meet some of these same consumer desires for pure, ethically produced products.

More specifically for Muslim millennials, Halal certification is important because cosmetics and supplements can contain ingredients derived from pork or other non-Halal animals. While similar ingredients derived from beef, fish, or other animal sources could be acceptable, they must come from certified Halal sources. As a result, millennial Muslims buying cosmetics and other beauty products will often look for Halal certification for assurance that the products do not contain any prohibited ingredients.

As Millennial spending power increases and consumer trends continue to shift towards processed and prepared foods, natural cosmetics, and health products, companies in these sectors can tap into a valuable market by offering Halal-certified options.

Source: ISA Halal

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