Halal supply chain certification: the next frontier in halal certification?

Halal supply chains are vulnerable supply chain for contamination, risk of contamination and perception issues; providing reputational risks for brand owners operating supply chains in and for Muslim markets.

Halal requires a supply chain approach in order to ensure the halal integrity of a halal product, similar to food safety. Therefore the halal assurance system of a company should go beyond ingredients and its production process. Is the certification of an end-to-end halal supply chain feasible?


The Concept

The idea of halal certification of a supply chain would not limit the audit and certification to the production facility with its compliant halal ingredients, but instead would certify the entire halal supply chain based on a more comprehensive halal assurance system covering end-to-end supply chain standard operating procedures. Although not every supply chain participant needs to be halal certified, halal compliance should be embedded in contracts and audit mechanisms by the brand owner (based on its market requirements).

With the certification of a halal supply chain a number of philosophical questions remain. First of all, where to consider the beginning and where the end of a halalsupply chain? Much of the existing literature on halal supply chain management talks about the helicopter terms ‘farm to fork’, suggesting the farmer the beginning and the house of the consumer the end of a halal supply chain. But once you dive into detail for a specific supply chain scenario, it is not that straight forward as the animals might not eat grass but consume animal feed from an animal feed plant. Does it make sense to extend control of the brand owner up to the house of the consumer, or is it more logical to have the cut-off point at the point of consumer purchase where the consumer buys the product in the restaurant or supermarket? In other words we need to clearly demarcate the beginning and end of each supply chain without creating unnecessary hardship for the industry in managing halal supply chains.

A second philosophical question is which supply chain process links are important to integrate and manage (managed process links: animal based ingredients and ingredients from non-Muslim countries?), which supply chain process links are important to monitor and audit (monitored process links: other ingredients and primary packaging materials?), and which ones are non-critical to be monitored (not-managed process links: other suppliers)?

The certification of halal supply chains in its full complexity requires effective halal management. Existing enterprise resource planning and supply chain management systems do not support complex halal requirements of halal supply chains. Blockchain technology, currently tested by Universiti Malaysia Pahang for halal food-cosmetics-pharmaceutical supply chains, could possibly bring this crucial technology in facilitating halal supply chain certification. Halal blockchains could automate halal supply chain alignment based on specific market requirements and facilitate audits by halal certification bodies of the entire halal supply chain. But even if this high potential technology is available, is the current halal regulatory framework ready for halalsupply chain certification?



I am of the opinion that the certification of halal supply chains is the future, necessary for a better risk management in halalsupply chains and more adequate corporate reputation management. However, we need to clearly demarcate the beginning and end of each supply chain and define the managed and monitored process links, without creating unnecessary hardship for the industry in managing halal supply chains.

The current situation where halal certification bodies do not really recognise each other, different halal standards are being practiced, lack of supply chain understanding by halal certification bodies, would only create hardship for industries when halal certification bodies try to impose this on corporations based on limited supply chain knowledge and local fatwas that are in conflict with fatwas in other countries.

Therefore, until there is an international halal supply chain standard accepted by all Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries, this should be initiatives driven by the private sector only in achieving a higher level of halalmaturity towards a halal supply chain and halal value chain. The benefits of a closed-loop halal supply chain are evident in terms of halal risk and reputation management and ultimately winning the trust and loyalty of the Muslim consumer through offering a better quality halal product by design.


Dr. Marco Tieman


For the full article, please visit the academic journal ‘Islam and Civilisational Renewal’.