A decision to add pork to Burger King’s menu has been met with upset by Muslim consumers, who have raised concerns about possible cross-contamination. With effect from 1 September 2019, 44 Burger King outlets in South Africa will operate without halaal certification. However, 52 outlets will remain halaal certified, with all branches in Kwa Zulu Natal unaffected. The company said it was only converting restaurants in areas where there is a halal outlet nearby to “as far as possible”, conveniently serve both consumers. Burger King has assured its clientele that the change will in no way affect those restaurants catering for halal consumers.
In a statement this week, Burger King South Africa said they had found there was a huge demand for ham or bacon to be added to its burgers. The change comes as a result of the findings of extensive market research and clientele profiling pursued by Burger King and their market researchers.
“In summary, what we’ve done is bi-annual market research in terms of new products…all these products go for market testing and get scoring to see what the commercial potential is. We included bacon onto the list of products we tested and the scoring came out very positively from a commercial point of view – as far back in 2016 already,” said Burger King chief operating officer, Juan Klopper.
“We approached a market research company and did face to face interviews at several restaurants to ascertain customer profiles and we also utilised geo-demographic information. You get an idea of who is supporting your restaurant and what their typical profiles are. Based on that, if there was a big majority of halaal customers, we decided it would be best to remain halaal. If there was a low representation, we decided to change it to a non-halaal restaurant.”
Klopper says that despite the change, Burger King will be able to comfortably redirect any Muslim customers to a nearby halaal outlet.
“Today, because we have around 94 restaurants, we have the ability to redirect someone to a halaal restaurant and serve both parties effectively.”
Muslim employees of Burger King who refuse to handle non-halaal products needn’t worry about their job security, according to Klopper.
“We’ve conducted a survey amongst our staff to understand their preferences. Anyone who has any issue with working at non-halaal restaurants can quite easily be accommodated to another location.”
Shura Halaal Trust’s head of public affairs, Imam Shamiel Basadien said the halal certifier has been working with Burger King since 2013 and that they have been fully consulted in the process.
Imam Basadien has similarly assured Burger King customers wishing to purchase halaal products that the change in some outlets will not compromise the Islamic integrity of the halaal certified stores.
“There’s quite a number of activities to be undertaken before you can certify an outlet as halaal…the whole chain needs to be certified,” he said.
“The point of the matter is that we can’t dictate to the business which stores they can and can’t wish to make halaal.”
Basadien reassured that they have the checks and balances in place at each halal Burger King outlet.
The following stores will remain halaal, according to the Shura Trust and Burger King South Africa’s statement:
These stores are no longer halal.