Ramadan builds community. At sunset, families convene at the table to break fast together; students meet on campus for iftar; organizations hold fundraisers; mosques host hundreds of Muslims and friends of other faiths; and companies reach out to the public to spread the spirit of Ramadan.
At the 29th annual Natural Products Expo East in September 2014, the East Coast's largest natural, organic and healthy products event, held in the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, Maryland, halal has become a household name. With over 23,000 attendees, and 1,277 exhibitors, more and more companies are seeking halal stamps, and two extraordinary leaders in the sector have gone beyond the stamp alone: Saffron Road and Crescent Food are using halal as a means to engage communities and spread goodness.
Saffron Road is a young and growing all-natural and halal certified brand that specializes in frozen and ready to eat entrees from around the world. Crescent Foods is a 20-year fixture in the halal industry that supplies premium all-natural halal chicken and beef.
These companies are unique because in addition to meeting the requirements for halal, they also meet requirements for all-natural and antibiotic-free. In the truest definition of the word halal, perhaps natural and halal ought to be one in the same: Adnan Durrani, CEO of Saffron Road, explained "For us halal is about tayyeb, what's wholesome and pure."
Ramadan provides a special opportunity to spread the meaning of halal and engage communities. Durrani shared at Expo East in the Fall, "We were on sale for the whole month of Ramadan. We did a Ramadan theme in all our stores and Whole Foods championed it. Some stores built pillars with crescents on top." This year, Saffron Road products are again on sale all month at Whole Foods, and can be spotted near artwork of domes, mosques, and signs that broadcast "Ramadan!" Additionally, 5% of sales on products will go to the Whole Kids Foundation, which aims to bring vegetable gardens to underprivileged schools.
The superior quality and ethics of these halal food companies shines light on the meaning of halal. Ibrahim Abed, Managing Director of Crescent Foods, said at Expo East, "Over the past year, we get less and less questions about what halal is." The increased awareness of halal has also heightened interest; Abed explained, "Interest in halal has gone up 50% from last year. People know it's quality and it's healthy."
Crescent Foods engages communities through social media and by sponsoring events. During Ramadan, and throughout the year, consumers can access promotions and enter giveaways on Facebook and Twitter. Crescent Foods sponsors a number of halal fests, sports tournaments, and other events around well-being and social good. Amna Haq, Marketing Director, shared that they recently sponsored a hijab fest "to empower women to be proud to wear the hijab." To partner with Crescent Foods, send an email to
two months prior to the event.
Crescent Foods spreads the spirit of community engagement not only by providing funding and donating to social causes, but also by volunteering. To celebrate the company's 20th anniversary, Crescent Foods organized a food pantry community service project on Saturday, June 6, 2015. Haq reflected on the experience, "Volunteering is more substantial than a monetary donation." She explained, that "Being asked to share your time revitalizes your commitment. It gave us a chance to work with the individuals that we're helping."
With Crescent Foods and Saffron Road providing superior products and exemplary service with a proud halal brand, it is no wonder that halal is elevating standards. At Expo East, Durrani shared that, "the CEO of whole foods, Walter Robb, told us, "You've lifted the standards of our entire chain." They didn't [prior to Saffron Road] have one antibiotic free entre in the whole frozen store. Similarly, Abed of Crescent Foods said, "People ask us how they can support it [halal]. They don't have Islamophobia because of halal."
These companies successfully spread the meaning of halal by engaging communities. Durrani explained, "The other brands just stick a halal stamp on, but there is no engagement. We are very connected to the Muslim community." This message resounded with Haq, "Community engagement is a strong part of what we do here at Crescent Foods. We do whatever we can to help the community."
Saffron Road's Ramadan promotions end on July 14. However, the community engagement will not end for both Saffron Road and Crescent Foods, building communities is as important as building the brand. Along the way, humility reigns; Durrani said, "Alhamdullillah, I say it's my mother's duas. We have lots of angels protecting us."