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Is a lack of innovation behind halal shopper dissatisfaction?

Salima Jivraj, head of Nourish Multicultural, says it’s up to retailers to make shelf space for more interesting halal products

Canadian grocery shoppers looking for halal are more dissatisfied with their options this year than they were a year ago, according to just released research.

In 2018, 43% of halal shoppers said grocery chains were meeting their needs, but this year that number slid to 36% of respondents. Further, 32% of respondents this year said major food companies were not meeting their needs.

Conducted for food marketing agency Nourish Food Marketing, the survey asked 1,000 Canadian grocery shoppers who buy halal, about their shopping and media habits, preferences and tastes.

Rising dissatisfaction could be a reflection of changing consumer expectations, said Salima Jivraj, head of Nourish Multicultural and the founder of Halal Foodie-- a website that spotlights halal food in Canada.

“We're seeing grocery stores stepping up, we're seeing manufacturers stepping up and offering more products, and grocery stores making more space,” said Jivraj.

“We feel that it’s consumer expectations that are going up,” she said. “A lot of the new halal products that are coming out, they just lack the innovation that they are used to seeing. They’re saying okay it is halal, but is it organic, is it gluten free, is it keto?”

Shoppers know those innovations are happening on the mainstream shelves, but they aren’t seeing them in the halal sections of their grocery store. It’s up to retailers to make more space for more interesting and innovative halal products, said Jivraj.

The survey also asked respondents about household size and found the average Muslim household is larger and often more multigenerational than Canadian households. Fully 14% of Muslim homes are multigenerational compared to just 3% of the average Canadian household. That means more food, said Jivraj.

“They’re eating more food, they’re preparing more food, they probably want larger pack sizes,” she said. “Multigenerational is important because it tells us that the person who is cooking is probably not the person who is purchasing food,” she said.

As for preferred grocery stores for halal shopping, Costco and No Frills came out on top. “And they have gone up significantly,” she said. Walmart also went up this year, while Adonis was noteworthy for a drop in popularity this year. “They were at 11.1% and they went down to 2.9%.”

“Costco really is a favourite with just a few locations,” said Jivraj. “It makes sense because they've been strengthening their meat department over the last couple of years to give a better assortment, better variety and especially a better price.”

No Frills has also made efforts to improve their offerings and pricing in recent years, while popular mass marketing efforts has likely had a positive impact on awareness overall, including with those shopping for halal.

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