Understanding Restaurant Managers’ Expectations of Halal Certification in Malaysia
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This study focuses on the expectations of restaurant managers and perceived attributes of halal certification in Malaysia. Halal certification at restaurants represents the understanding that foods is served according to Islamic dietary laws. Halal means permitted or lawful or fit for consumption. As well as its importance in Muslim countries, the demand for halal food is growing internationally as a result of increasing trade, tourism and globalization. Therefore, halal certification is seen as an important aspect in both the Malaysian and the international restaurant and hospitality industries. Halal certification in an eating premises means that both the restaurants, as well as the entire food supply chain, conform to Islamic dietary rules which do not tolerate contamination by haram (prohibited) materials.
Research for this thesis was undertaken by both a mail survey and interviews with restaurant managers. For the survey, a systematic sampling method was applied whereby every fourth restaurant was selected from a list of all restaurants in Malaysia provided by the Companies Commission. A mail survey to 2080 restaurants was administered throughout Malaysia in July 2009. The number of completed and returned questionnaires was 643, indicating a 31% response rate. Data was then entered into a Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) for further analysis. The response rate was considered reasonable given the nature of the study and its limitations. In addition, 33 interviews with restaurant managers were conducted in five locations.
The results indicate that restaurant managers have high expectations towards halal certification although there are different expectations between Muslim and non-Muslim respondents with respect to attributes such as food safety, hygiene, food quality, marketing aspects and certification issues. It is also gathered that there are significant differences between them with respect to market signals, Islamic attributes, marketing benefits, cost of compliance and local awareness. This thesis concludes that halal certification does yield some benefits in terms of market signals, Islamic attributes and marketing factors while there are also certain issues on cost and compliance that need to be addressed by related local authorities. The findings also indicate that halal restaurant food may have a broader appeal beyond religion and also contributes to Malaysia’s positioning as a tourism destination and a hub for the global halal market.