Consumer Affairs Authority compiling Halal report

By Madhusha Thavapalakumar

The Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) is in the process of compiling a report on the certification activities of Halal-certified businesses in response to demands by industry stakeholders and consumers.

Beyond this the report would also address calls from various quarters for a boycott of businesses with Halal certifications and for other businesses to stop offering Halal products.

Speaking to The Sunday Morning Business, CAA Chairman Dr. Lalith N. Senaweera stated that once compiled, the CAA will analyse and interpret the report and arrive at a decision on whether to take action against any businesses which have given up their Halal certifications.

“We are looking into ongoing issues. As soon as the report is compiled we will take necessary steps,” he said.

The Sunday Morning Business spoke to the Halal Accreditation Council (Guarantee) Ltd., to ascertain the impact of these movements on Halal-accredited businesses. The council stated that so far, only Nelna had returned their Halal certificate.

A spokesman from the council added that over 230 businesses are registered with them which are Halal certified and over 80% of them are non-Muslim owned. 50% of the companies obtain Halal certification predominantly to export to Middle Eastern countries.

Meanwhile, for further clarification, we spoke to Nelna Agri Development (Pvt.) Ltd. General Manager Kapila Rajapaksa, who told us that Nelna had returned their Halal certificate on 1 June, following intense pressure from non-Muslim consumers.

Rajapaksa added that the company is yet to assess the loss caused by the return of its Halal certificate, but noted that there was a slight drop in sales shortly prior.

“90% of our customers are non-Muslims. We have over 5,500 outlets around the country and only 55 of them are in Muslim areas, but still, our Muslim customers are buying from these outlets because they understand the pressure we went through.”

On a further note, Rajapaksa stated that receiving Halal certification cost the company Rs. 1 million initially, and annual renewal also costs the same amount.

According to the Halal Accreditation Council, the price of a Halal certification varies, depending on the size and the location of the business.

This is the second time Nelna has renounced their Halal certification. The first was in 2014, but the company reintroduced the Halal logo six months after.

However, Rajapaksa firmly stated that they would not reintroduce it this time as they were receiving positive feedback from their customers.

Halal is an Arabic word which means “permissible” in English. Halal food is that which adheres to Islamic law, as defined in the Quran.