I think everybody already knows that when founding Ülker, right at the start, Sabri Ülker, our founder, and my father, summarized his mentality as “I would never produce or trade any product that I wouldn’t eat or allow my kids to eat.” Since the first day, Ülkerhas paid strict attention to the quality, hygiene, and “halal”ness of all supplied raw materials and all manufactured products. The Food Safety Committee we founded to this end monitors the Halal, Kosher, Vegetarian/Vegan, etc. standards and practices, audits their effectiveness and adequacy, and ensures their continuity and excellence, taking steps ahead to maintain and improve its legacy. And it does a very good job.

Our Global Food Safety Director Rohaizad Hassan, who works for the Food Safety Committee, travels around our factories across the globe and makes substantial efforts to ensure the excellence of our food safety practices. Recently, a Malaysian state institution called the HDC (Halal Development Corporation Berhad (HDC) visited our Harlesden factory in the United Kingdom and they were very satisfied. Also, Rohaizad Hassan represented Yıldız Holding at the Halal Expo in Türkiye and the Makkah Halal Forum. He shared many relevant posts via his social media account. When I received the reports of these visits, I asked Rohaizad to answer some questions I had in mind and ended up with this interview. Let’s get to know the Global Halal Eco-System closer together. How much do you think is the value of this ecosystem and where does it stand strategically?

By the way, I should mention again that the Kosher and Halal certification abroad involves different processes than Türkiye. Separate certificates are given for each product and production facility. With us, they are given to brands. Is this true? Moreover, in our country, which has been a Muslim country for over a thousand years, specifying haram food products in import and domestic sales suffices. Because it is judged that a rule that held a certain time still does unless otherwise stated. This is the Mejelle code. However, halal certification is required for export markets.

With half its population made up of Muslim Malays, Malaysia has surely been a leader in Halal Food Certification.

Below are the questions I asked our Yıldız Holding Food Safety Director Rohaizad Hassan and his answers:

  1. How would you describe your job exactly?

In my current role at Yıldız Holding, I manage a corporate program focused on food labels, such as Halal, Vegetarian, Vegan, and Kosher, as part of the consumer sensitivity program. This position enables me to be in continuous interaction with the international industrial community and create an inclusive system to improve standards for consumers and the industry. Through this program created by the Yıldız Holding Food Safety Committee, I  became a part of such Yıldız Holding companies as United Biscuits ( McVitie’s ), Godiva Chocolatier, Ülker, Verkade, BN, and Demets to help them enhance their potential by maintaining the integrity of their products and supply chains. This work has provided me with an advantage because I can positively influence corporate standards and decision-makers in various companies.

2. How long have you been doing this job? How did you begin?  

I have been doing work on the regulatory compliance of Halal and special food labels for 20 years. In my career, which began at Malaysia Airlines in 2004, I gained a lot of experience. Back then, Malaysia Airlines was the leader in Halal in-flight food offerings. I was assigned a job that involved the supervision and management of bidding processes and operations of global in-flight catering companies to ensure Malaysia Airlines procured Halal products for its passengers. The scope comprised service deliveries in Europe, Asia, and Africa, product or menu acceptance, food safety, halal compliance, and operational compliance audits. “Halal” was my main job. Driven by business acumen combined with goodwill, I improved myself and gained experience.

3. What makes you an expert in this field?

I have over 20 years of Halal audit experience in supply chains. I was granted a Halal Expert certificate by the Malaysian Government. In addition, I am a co-author of the book ‘Halal Guidebook for Producers’ published by the Malaysian Halal Development Corporation (HDC).

The book was voted as one of the “Best 50 Books” of Malaysia at the Frankfurt International Book Fair in 2009. I became the leader of the Global Halal Reference Center to help develop economic opportunities in collaboration with other governments and industry actors at HDC Malaysia, the Malaysian Government. The actors there were prestigious ones, such as Dubai Islamic Economy Development Center, Mitsubishi Consulting Group, Emirates Cargo, Netherlands Port Administration, Nippon Express, etc. In addition, I led a data warehouse project implemented to analyze and understand the halal investments and export data used by the International Ministry of Trade for strategic purposes. In that role, I was invited to several universities and public institutions as a technical expert to assess some public publications and standards on halal.

I also started a voluntary initiative with some halal experts in Malaysia to share information about halal. In 2015, we launched the complimentary website Halal Industry Quest (HiQ) to share the available information with the public and the private sector. This is a website that investigates the halal industry from a technical or Islamic perspective and publishes reports.

Alleluiah, these are some of the opportunities that gave direction to and strengthened my Halal career and I always strive to learn more.


The Malaysian government institution HDC ( Halal Development Corporation Berhad (HDC), requested to visit our biscuit factory in London as part of the World Halal Business Conference (WHBC) to be held in October last year, of which it is a co-organizer. As a result of the coordination of our Food Safety Committee, the HDC team visited our Harlesden factory with a team of 7 experts on October 25. After the initial half-hour presentation, the team was guided through the packaging section of the country and shown the visual boards designed to raise employee/visitor awareness for 1.5 hours. During the presentation, views concerning the Halal compliance challenges in the United Kingdom and future growth plans were shared.

The purpose of HDC was to observe and find out how a global trade company belonging to an organization based in an Islamic country like Türkiye successfully implemented Halal practices in its production facilities in Europe and the United Kingdom. They were highly satisfied with what they saw.

Rohaizad shared the following posts about this matter on his social media accounts:

§ Rohaizad’s Posts – LinkedIn

About the WHBC Conference

HDC Harlesden Factory Visit

HDC’s Posts – LinkedIn

HDC Harlesden Factory Visit

About the WHBC Conference

HDC’s post about WHBC panelists (the part about Rohaizad and Yıldız Holding)

HDC also shared the Harlesden factory visit via LinkedIn and Facebook.

HDC Facebook:

HDC Instagram:

4. Why is Malaysia the lead the way in halal food certification?

Malaysia began implementing audit compliance under the leadership of the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM)  in 1974. That Malaysia Airlines has spread these halal practices since the early 1980s and become a reference point for other airlines that require Halal certification is just one of the many successful examples.

Malaysia has also enabled the registration of Halal description to the Codex Alimentarius in Rome, operating under the United Nations FAO. Thus, it is now being used as a labelling reference for customs, standard development institutions, and global certification.

Since 2005, JAKIM has approved halal certification institutions to encourage the development of halal products while the Department of Standards Malaysia has initiated various standards on halal food.  MS-1500, titled “Halal Food: Production, Preparation, Handling, and Storage – General Guidelines”, which was issued by the Malaysian government in 2004 and is already used by many countries, as well as The Standards and Metrology Institute for Islamic Countries (SMIIC) and OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation), is the world’s first halal standard. Malaysia also put the Halal Law into effect in 2011 to regulate halal claims and local operators. It is among the first countries to issue a halal regulation, except for Canada and the US.  

5. What does the Halal Eco-System mean? How big is it globally?

The Halal Eco-System has an extensive framework in the halal industry of each country, under the leadership of Halal or Development Agencies. The halal eco-system is comprised of various connected components that play a critical role in ensuring that the production, distribution, and consumption of halal products reaches certain target consumers or businesses.

– Production:

This part covers the production of halal products, including food, drugs, cosmetics, and other similar products. The compliance of these products with halal standards must be ensured.

– Services:

Logistics and Supply Chain: Efficient transportation and distribution channels are vital for the delivery of halal products to customers.

Tourism: This part offers halal-friendly travel services, halal food, prayer halls, and other facilities for Muslim travelers.

Banking and ve Takaful (Islamic Insurance System): Financial services that comply with Islamic principles fall into this category. Many Muslim halal industry players prefer this service to the conventional banking system.

Research and Technical Services: These include the labs and research institutes that analyze products in the food, drug, and medicine industries and ensure the traceability of animal, alcohol, and harmful material traces.

– State:

Government Support: Governments play a critical role in encouraging and regulating the halal industry. They contribute to the ecosystem by improving policies, certificates, and infrastructure.

– Human Capital:

Halal Auditors and Executives: Experts who audit and document halal compliance.

Academicians: Researchers and educators who contribute to the halal know-how.

Halal Knowledge Workers: Individuals working on various levels of the halal industry.

Syllabus in universities and Colleges: Educational institutions that offer courses on halal.

As per the Islamic Development Bank data, the global halal ecosystem is expected to reach a value of approximately USD 3 trillion by 2025.   

6. Which institutions grant halal certification? Does pladis have these certificates?

Yıldız Holding Food Safety Board works with around 165 local accredited halal certification institutions of various accreditation and recognition levels, set by the import region. For example; all our factories in Türkiye, as well as our factories in India, Kazakhstan, Cairo, Jeddah, Riyadh, and the three factories in the United States of America have Turkish Standard (TSE) Halal certification. Foreign certification institutions are IFANCA, Halal India, the Egyptian authority EOS, and others.

7. Are different certifications needed for different countries? For example, for Saudi Arabia, England, and Türkiye?

Depending on the import regulation of your target local market, sometimes a factory may have two different halal certifications because a certain certification institution may not have all the accreditations required by those countries. For instance, when halal certification institutions receive the Gulf Accreditation (GAC), they can import to all GCC countries. Therefore, accreditation and recognition play an important role. For example, our Kerevitaş Kurtköy facilities have two different halal certificates that comply with the export regulations of different local markets.  

8. In which countries are Halal Food Expos held? Why are they important? Which ones should be attended?

There are many Halal food fairs worldwide:

1-         Malaysia – MIHAS

2-         Türkiye – World Halal Expo

3-         Canada – Helal Expo Canada is the only Halal expo in North America.

4-         Others: Bosnia, Indonesia, London, and Manchester expos.

MIHAS (Malaysia), which made a sales income of MYR 3.11 billion in 2023, is important and highly recommended.

Also, I look forward to conferences rather than food expos because these encourage me to learn more and interact with the global halal community to discover new industrial initiatives. For instance, the IFANCA Conference in Chicago, the Makka Halal Forum, and the HFA London Conference are highly educational platforms.  

Note: Rohaizad Hassan’s LinkedIn post about the Makka Halal Forum, which he attended two months ago.

9. What is your opinion about the halal food expo in Türkiye?

Türkiye Halal Food Expo keeps gaining momentum. In my humble opinion, they need a global organizer to attract more multinational companies or industry leaders so they can gain more prestige. Thus, they can create better branding for Türkiye. Currently, many food industry players prefer to attend such food and beverage events as Anuga (Germany), Gulfood (Dubai), and SIAL (Paris), which attract more traffic. We should be making an effort to attract purchasing managers worldwide to this halal event and encourage them. All big players should be there, too. Thus, more businesses and companies will attend the expo. We should act more strategically rather than just exhibiting local products. This halal expo is important in enabling Türkiye to reach double-digit values in some industries, such as agricultural products, innovative products, and Halal Tourism, as it has more competitive advantages than other countries in these areas. Due to its geographical location and logistical disadvantages, Malaysia failed to achieve this branding or position itself as such.  However, the Halal industry nests a great opportunity worth USD 3 trillion.

Note: Rohaizad Hassan attended Türkiye Halal Expo 2023. This is a photo he had taken at the entrance.

10.What is your opinion about the halal food processes implemented at pladis? What did Murat Ülker tell you in your first interview?

The Halal food processes at pladis and Yıldız Holding Group have reached almost 100% compliance on average after substantial Halal Food efforts made since 2019 as part of the Consumer Food Sensitivity Standard. Indeed, some of our factories have implemented best practices that are equivalent to the Nestle practice, which started the Halal food project 20-30 years ago.  

In my first interview, Murat Ülker was very determined to ensure that all products were halal.  Also, he asked me to draft a timeline to present in the QBR (Quarterly Business Review).

11. Is there anything you would like to add?

I would like to thank Murat Ülker and Ali Ülker for having given me the chance to be a part of Yıldız Holding’s Halal program under the guidance of the Food Safety Committee, run by Yıldız Holding Board Member İbrahim Taşkın and our experienced executive manager Mehmet Köse, and believing in me. I wouldn’t have been able to achieve all this without the support of executive stakeholders.

Note: This open-source article can be quoted by mentioning the author. No copyright is required.