Halal Industry: The Retail Price Game

Halal Foodie

Halal Industry Feature.

On a recent grocery run at Loblaw’s, I noticed that my usual brand of chicken wings weren’t on the shelves in the frozen food section – and neither were any of their other frozen products. Odd, I thought to myself, I could have sworn that I picked up a few boxes there in the past. I shook my head and continued picking up the rest of my groceries – thinking nothing of it.

A few days later I found myself at a Loblaw’s Real Canadian Superstore picking up a few more things and once again, found myself looking high and low for my chicken wings (Mina brand). It couldn’t be a coincidence – maybe Mina stopped making making them? But when I checked at FreshCo, I noticed them right away on the shelf. Elated, but confused, I decided to channel my inner Nancy Drew and figure out why two different Loblaw’s stores didn’t carry Mina’s line of frozen foods.

I went right to the root of it all and called a Loblaw’s Superstore in Scarborough. I spoke with the store manager David, who told me that they were relooking the process as they weren’t selling much. I thought that was a weird response seeing as there was still one brand of halal products on the shelves, just not any others. My household will only consume hand slaughtered halal chicken, so I was stuck since the only brand they carried uses machine slaughtered chicken.

People are buying more of the economical products and Hand Slaughtered Halal Products continues to get priced down due to sitting on the shelf longer

It makes sense – Mina is usually priced at about 30 per cent more because they use only hand-slaughtered chicken and their operations are fully monitored on a regular basis by the HMA. Sadly, what I’m realizing is that this means people are buying more of the economical products and Hand Slaughtered Halal brands continue to get priced down due to sitting on the shelf longer, frustrating retailers.

“The hand slaughter process is the only way in which there are no compromises. By putting the right amount of slaughtermen on the production line and working out an efficient system, each bird is blessed and cut properly without any compromise.” Imam Omar Subedar, COO and spokesperson for the HMA Canada.

In a recent survey we conducted, we learned that consumers are willing to pay more for hand-slaughtered meat. If that’s the case, then why are consumers still choosing lower-priced machine slaughtered brands? In order to get Mina and other hand-slaughtered brands back on the shelves, consumers will need to understand that quality and assurance costs more.

I also wonder how many people actually understand the difference between hand and machine slaughter? Or even which brands use which method.

Forget about hand and machine slaughtering for a minute. There are SO MANY other issues that happen in a meat processing facility that make the halal meat you consume questionable. From our research, the only certifier in Canada who is present and monitors production for their clients is HMA. Other certifiers see the process once, hand over a certificate and walk away.

Sound off below in the comments sections. We want to know what you think – and if having hand-slaughtered meat at your local Loblaw’s, No Frills, Fortinos or Superstore is important to you than write a letter, Tweet them or post on their Facebook wall. You’re the consumer and it’s you that’s most important – let them know that you want hand-slaughtered options readily available at your local grocery store.

 

Hafsa is a cupcake-baking, fashion-loving, DIY-obsessed small town girl living in a big city. You can follow her adventures in her new lifestyle blog ‘Does This Make My Head Look Fat?” She has a background in public relations but now currently works in the digital agency world as a Social Media Coordinator for 88 Creative. Her guilty pleasures include traveling, eating macaroons and Instagramming her day-to-day excursions. Follow her adventures on Twitter.

 

By: October 7, 2015

25 Comments


  • Interesting article which highlights many consumers frustrations with supermarkets failing their Muslim consumers. I find that loblaws is hit and miss, but they have been providing their own brand Sufra so perhaps this is their way of pushing their own products.

    Walmart has been a bit more of a consistent leader in the halal frozen food hand slaughtered by stocking Mina. However failure of big name grocery stores means that for our halal meat we will continue to shop at source from butchers or small independent vendors. Canadian grocery stores are missing out on a significant consumer base.

    You would think with so much research and investment to find out consumer habits that stores like loblaws would know the difference and impact in hand slaughtered versus mechanical slaughtering or stun gun. You’re absolutely right, if we want to see change then we have to be the difference and speak up and not make apologies for our dietary needs whether it’s allergies or religious requirements.


  • Glad to see the recognition of choosing hand slaughter over machine slaughter! Unfort price can lead some Muslim consumers to choose meat products labelled as “halal” but risk compromising consuming doubtful meat.

    Supermarkets are lead by price margins and sales however, they are led by consumer demand.

    Better information should help consumers make informed decisions inshallah.

    We’re a voluntary charity consumer organisation based in UK – http://www.behalal.org


  • unfortunately sales of halal frozen foods have slumped due to the increase in halal fast food restaurants and saturation of halal butchers typically in the GTA. the way I see it is halal food companies need to search for viable ways to compete with all the fresh halal food that is flooding the market. one option would be to invest in stores which sell fresh cuts or push their products to restaurants with the brand they have built. hopefully we wouldn’t have to see them leave but in a time like this innovation coupled with a few swift moves is the key to remain in business.


  • Mohammad Ahsan on October 8, 2015

    I noticed the same at my local no frills store and the meet the manager said he sold more Mina than any of the other brands so he wasn’t quite sure why Mina was being taken away.

    You touched an important point “how many people actually understand the difference between hand and machine slaughter? Or even which brands use which method.” because on first sight “zabiha halal” sounds like it would be hand slaughtered.

    btw the Sufra brand is not hand slaughtered as someone mentioned it earlier as a good alternative to zabiha halal. Goes to show that even those of us concerned about hand slaughtered meat are not fully educated about our options.


  • Wow that is some really unfortunate news. I love Mina and so does my family. We were so happy when it came out, it made it so convenient to just stop by our local grocery store and grab wings or burgers whenever we needed it. I really hope they reconsider. People were just starting to wake up and learn that machine slaughtered isn’t actually a legit source for halal. With mina we finally had an amazing alternative that we could trust especially bc it was Hma certified and hadn’t switched certifiers 3 times like other brands. I really hope they change their mind. It would be great if you can post a link to where we can directly send our complaints, I know tons of people who will be dissapointed by this. For now I guess I’ll be shopping elsewhere to find my mina products.


    • I guess you must know better than the Muslim imams and scholars who certify machine slaughtered products what is halal and what isn’t. Everyone is an expert these days MashAllah.


      • Do you know why some scholars don’t permit machine-slaughter?


      • Would love to know the names of the so called imams and scholars that endorse machine slaughter over hand slaughter


        • When the head of the Canadian Council of Imams endorses machine slaughtered products as Halal, who are you to question his authority and knowledge? Did you know that machine slaughter is widely used in Islamic countries like Malaysia and Saudi Arabia? All of a sudden, it is haram in Canada? Who are you to issue fatwas on behalf of all Muslims? Let’s cut to the chase: show me exactly where in the Quran it says that something must be slaughtered by hand. Do we still ride camels in this day in age? No, we need to modernize all facets of our life and machine slaughter does not contradict Halal requirements. If you can’t give proof to the contrary, I suggest you keep your opinions to yourself about things you are clearly not an expert on.


          • Tarek you seem well educated on the subject with all sorts of anecdotal examples. Mashallah an authority on the subject I would say.

            I mean if Saudi Arabia is an example of what we should follow for halal surely we shouldn’t allow women to drive or modernize any aspect of out religious lives as you suggested earlier. Saudi is one country among 60+ Muslim countries and it’s no where near a representation of the 1.7 billion Muslims worldwide.

            Let’s cut to the chase, can you please show me where in the Quran it tells you how to pray salat. Surely you rely on scholars and ahadith to learn that. Scholars across the world have all collectively decided that hand slaughter is the correct and only acceptable method for meat to be considered halal without any doubts. Yes this matter is still under discussion and has not yet reached it’s end stages but the below two organizations will show you where scholars are headed. UK and South Africa are the most developed when it comes to halal and they have both landed on hand slaughter. Canada will soon follow inshallah with the help of Halal Council of Canada.

            http://halalcouncilofcanada.com
            http://www.meatinfo.co.uk/news/fullstory.php/aid/16669/Halal_authority_forbids_machine-killed_poultry.html

            In fact the Dr Iqbal Nadvi (head of Canadian Council of Imams) has the position that it is better to eat hand slaughter secondly he works for IFANCA, the body which certifies your favourite machine slaughter brand.

            You are absolutely right that there are scholars who accept machine slaughter, however, they follow that up by saying no organization in Canada is following the guidelines to actually be considered halal by even their lenient standards. Machine slaughter in theory is all they endorse.

            I think there should be more power in the hands of the consumer and every meat company should be required to label products with method of slaughter. Besides if an organization is willing to put 100% halal and most trusted brand in Canada on ad they should be equally proud to say “100% machine slaughtered halal” on ad as well.

            Dear Br Tarek I would suggest that if you cannot benefit the Muslim community with furthering the cause of halal, please keep your opinions to yourself, that is if they are your own opinions. You’re not an authority on the subject so I would recommend you don’t take the responsibility of people eating doubtful products with you having to answer for each of them.

            Consumers are smart enough to decide, unfortunately due to our busy schedules we see labels such as “zabiha halal” and consider it to mean hand slaughter without further research as that is the implied meaning to anyone who has lived in South Asia or the Middle East. I would challenge you to ask a 100 people what they think ‘Zabiha Halal’ means.


          • Halal Council of Canada is initiative of a business and its all (or most of the) meeting are hosted and all expense paid by the same business.
            A representative from the same business is part of each and every meeting of this halal council.
            It might be serving the purpose of a particular business but as an industry standard, such an organization has no credibility.


  • rhubbab@yahoo.com on October 9, 2015

    Good article but it is unfortunate that some claims made here are false. When you say that ‘the only certifier in Canada who is present and monitors production for their clients is HMA. Other certifiers see the process once, hand over a certificate and walk away’.
    This is totally wrong and baseless allegation.

    Imam Subedar and HMA is relatively a new addition to Halal certifying business with very limited resources while ISNA, IFANCA, HMC and few others are in this fields for decades and their Halal certification is accepted in all major Muslim countries.

    Instead of accusing others, HMA should tell the consumers that how many food scientists and formula specialists they have to verify complex formulas of spices and ingredients.


  • When a brand’s only marketing strategy is to shed doubt on the halal authenticity of other brands, know that it has nothing new or special to offer. Those die hard Mina consumers should know that Mina is made by a company that is one of the largest pork processors in the country. How halal is your food now?


  • Definitely a shame to see Mina taken away. In a world where we can have the luxury of choosing between hand and machine slaughtered, I’d like to opt for the one that is safer imo. Having seen a lot of the “machine slaughtered zabiha”, it’s a joke. Bring back the hand slaughtered!


  • This is a comment by a non Muslim on a maple lodge video. …pretty sad that Muslims continue to eat from this company

    Tammy Corkum
    Something wrong with your guy’s heads???? 60 Criminal Charges against Maple Lodge Farms http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2012/01/08/maple_lodge_farms_faces_60_criminal_charges_as_thousands_of_chickens_perish.html?referrer= W5 segment about Maple Lodge Farms http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2012/01/08/maple_lodge_farms_faces_60_criminal_charges_as_thousands_of_chickens_perish.html?referrer= This video was published on Jan 19, 2015 and obviously you do not care about animal treatment, where your food comes from, that or you got paid up the ying yang to do this video…….


    • Way to use references that are nearly 4 years old to make your point. I bet if you were to look into all the major processing companies in this industry you will find similar if not worse abuses. It seems maple lodge took the brunt because theyre the biggest in the country, but make no mistake… its an industry issue not just them.


      • Can you sight a single one perhaps you can Google this. And this might be an old link but maple lodge has had this issue repeatedly.


  • I buy chicken nuggets and I always see Mina is priced a dollar or more over the Zabiha Maple Lodge products. Both are halal – Mina is hand slaughtered. If they were priced the same I would buy Mina, but I have no problem with machine slaughtered halal (pretty much used in many places across the Islamic world, from what I know). If Mina wants to compete, they have to bring their costs down.


  • 2 articles I found relatively quickly online from UK and Australia claiming (with proof) that machine slaughter is perfectly acceptable PROVIDED the 3 basic conditions of halal slaughter are met:
    a) Most of the four veins (including the Jugular vein, according to
    some) must be cut with a knife, blade or any tool that is sharp and
    has a cutting edge;
    b) The name of Allah must be pronounced at the time of
    slaughtering, whether actually or effectively (such as when it is
    forgotten by someone who would normally have said it);
    c) The slaughterer must be either a Muslim or from the People of
    the Book (Ahl al-Kitab). (See: al-Haskafi and Ibn Abidin in Radd alMuhtar
    ala al-Durr al-Mukhtar)

    http://www.eat-halal.com/mechanical-slaughter-is-allowed/

    http://muslimvillage.com/2014/06/05/54221/hand-v-machine-slaughter-halal-chicken/

    The general consensus is that this is a relatively new phenomenon and that is why it is still being discussed and debated. Of course we must follow the Quran and Sunnah to know what is halal and what is haram, but in the days of the prophet (pbuh), naturally there could not be a comparison made between hand and machine slaughter. It is up to the scholars of our time to make the ruling on whether or not something is permissible. End of the day, Allah knows best.


  • I have bought products of both Mina and the machine slaughtered brand mentioned here, presumably Zabiha Halal, and I found that Zabiha Halal was higher quality and better tasting. I respect that others here may have a differing opinion, but this is just my humble opinion. I think what the article seems to assume is that Mina is just the hand slaughtered equivalent of Zabiha Halal, but otherwise both brands are identical. I do not find this to be the case. Besides the slaughter method, there are other considerations such as quality, taste, and price that I think of when shopping for my family, and I find Zabiha Halal to offer better value and quality overall.


  • This is all a bunch of rubbish! I can’t believe how many people will come to the aid of a company that has lied to people for years. They have used a clever name that, to most Muslims, means hand slaughter. I have a personal friend who was sued by them for telling people that Maple Lodge is machine slaughter. They have bullied many scholars and people in community the same way. So not only do they not care for animal welfare they don’t care for your freedom to express your opinion.

    @muqtadir now go spend a 1/4 of the time you spent looking for those articles and you’ll find 10 that say machine slaughter is not acceptable.

    Find a SINGLE scholar that says hand slaughter and machine slaughter are equal, you will not be able to. Every single one including those who approve Maple Lodge that hand slaughter is better although machine may be permissible under certain circumstances.

    You choose what you want for your family and just remember what the Prophet PBUH said about doubtful matters.

    We are the only obsticle for our own progress! No company can sell what you will not buy and it’s not the Muslim communities job to make excuses for companies that essentially are in this to make money and not provide you a holy service, so don’t delude your selves.


  • I was just looking for some info about zabiha chicken and surprised that we keep using terms Halal chicken etc, Chicken itself is halal but its the method that muslim use to slaughter called Zabiha. We shouldn’t say chicken is halal or not due to slaughter method ( as chicken is always halal). Hope this make a bit clarification


  • Is it just me or is this conversation really stupid, how self involved have we become that we all consider ourselves more knowledgeable than the other. If machine slaughtered is not halal, then why is there no lawsuit or any such issue being pursued with the companies that promote machine slaughtered halal. Let be decent people and appreciate that there is halal available in a non-muslim country. I am proud that even in Oshawa i have choices for halal food. Grow up people and stop nit picking and attacking each other. No one here including myself is an authority here, i buy with the money i earn, and if halal is available cheaper, you want me to start thinking now about the different types of halal, there are so many muslims that dont even eat halal, how would you try and convince them to start eating halal if you make such division…….long rant :), sorry if i offended anyone, not my intention. Live and let live


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