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The information in this directory is updated as of 28th September 2018. Users of this directory are advised to check on the validity of the companies' Halal certificates before purchasing any items from the companies listed in the Directory.
 

NEWS

    

Food producers adapt for slice of halal market

When dimsum manufacturer SMH Foods Enterprise approached hotels with its halal version of siew mai - a Cantonese delicacy usually made with pork - chefs were not keen to serve it in their restaurants.

But SMH, which was confident that its chicken version tasted just like the original, found a way to convince the cooks - by offering them samples to try without disclosing the ingredients.

It turned out the chefs could not tell the difference and they bought the halal version.

More companies, like SMH, are diversifying into the Muslim market, with over 4,400 premises obtaining halal certification last year - an 11 per cent increase from 2016.

A total of 914 of those were manufacturing facilities, up from the 784 that received certification in 2016.

The halal market for packaged food and drinks in the Asia-Pacific region was worth US$50 billion (S$67 billion) last year, according to Euromonitor.

SMH was a front runner in this area. Back in the late 1990s, its parent company, Sin Mui Heng, saw an opportunity to branch out to different markets after the Asian financial crisis.

  • 4,400

    More than this number of premises obtained halal certification last year - an 11 per cent increase from 2016.

    $67b

    The halal market for packaged food and drinks in the Asia-Pacific region was worth US$50 billion (S$67 billion) last year, according to Euromonitor.

"We saw opportunities in halal food, and back then nobody did halal dimsum, " said SMH group operations director Johnson Tay.

Mr Tay did not want to divulge the details but said that it took almost a year to perfect the siew mai recipe. "We took almost a year trying different combinations of chicken with marinades to replicate the texture. Chicken meat is very lean and dry, so we had to experiment with some natural ingredients to make it more moist," he said.

The success shows. While around 250,000 pieces of siew mai were sold in 1997, last year it sold 2.7 million.

Mr Tay also said the firm's original name, Sin Mui Heng, was "too Chinese", so it created a subsidiary called SMH.

Making food that caters to Muslim palate

When it comes to rebranding for the halal market, meat manufacturer Golden Bridge Manufacturing went even further.

The firm, which originally produced sausages and processed meats for the Chinese market, decided in 2008 that there was a growing market for halal food, especially in neighbouring Malaysia and Indonesia.

So with the help of Enterprise Singapore, it created two brands that look completely different from Golden Bridge.

El-Dina targets the higher end of the market, while Kizmiq has more mass appeal.

Golden Bridge's most popular halal product is an alternative to luncheon meat, called "chicken meat loaf", and it also produces ham, chicken floss and halal lup cheong.

Golden Bridge managing director Ong Bee Chip said: "We also use green packaging because it's an important colour in Islam."

Unlike SMH, Mr Ong's halal products do not try to replicate the taste of their non-halal originals. Instead, he adapted Chinese recipes to the Muslim palate, which he said has its own unique preferences.

"We would do blind tests with our Muslim workers, and find that they preferred the tastes of cumin, lemongrass and yellow ginger, for instance."

Golden Bridge product manager Teo Ni Zhen recounted that when it was trying to create halal bak kwa, it made a version close to the Chinese original with halal ingredients, and tested it against dendeng (Indonesian jerky).

The halal version of bak kwa did not go down well with taste-test participants, who prefered the dendeng taste instead.

Mr Ong said the goal is not to introduce the Muslim market to completely Chinese-tasting food, adding: "We think it's better to adapt to their taste profile."

Both Golden Bridge and SMH had to construct separate manufacturing facilities to ensure their food would not be contaminated with non-halal sources.

Enterprise Singapore said that Singapore is well positioned to tap the halal market.

The agency helps companies looking to expand into the halal market with rebranding, overseas expansion to markets like the Middle East, and redesigning their production spaces.

Ms Kee Ai Nah, executive director of Enterprise Singapore's lifestyle and consumer cluster, said: "Singapore-made food products have built a strong reputation for high standards in quality and safety."

The author of The Halal Food Blog, Mr Adam Shah, said: "The halal food scene in Singapore has definitely boomed in the last few years, with halal versions of foods and products that previously would have been thought to be impossible.

"As consumers evolve more adventurous and unique eating patterns, everyone is looking for new gastronomical experiences."