YAMAGATA - Marujyu Soysauce & Seasoning Corp., a well-established soy sauce manufacturer in Yamagata, became the first in the prefecture to obtain halal certification in order to focus more on exporting its products to the Muslim world. The certification is essential in developing a business centering on food targeted at Muslims. With a population of over 1.6 billion Muslims around the world and with an increasingly appealing market, there is a growing interest in the certification among companies around the prefecture.
An Islamic legal expert from the Japan Halal Association, an Osaka-based nonprofit organisation which issues halal certificates, visited the company on April 28 and gave 51-year-old Tomoaki Sato, the president of the company, the good news that their soy sauce products had been certified as halal products. It is not only the first halal certification for soy sauce products in Yamagata Prefecture, but also the first in the country.
Halal certification proves that the product complies with Islamic law. Halal means "permitted by God" in Arabic. To be certified, there are rules such as not including pork or alcohol, which are forbidden by Muslim law, and not using cooking utensils that have come into contact with such items. Besides food-related products such as food additives and seasoning materials, items such as cosmetics and medical products are also covered by halal rules.
There are no internationally unified certification organisations, but there are over 10 such organisations in Japan.
Marujyu currently has dealings in eight countries, such as China and South Africa. Overseas sales currently account for less than 10 per cent of the total sales, but foreseeing that the domestic market would shrink in the future, the company shifted its focus to Muslim countries in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, where there is significant economic growth, and started working toward obtaining halal certification in April last year.