Spanish chocolate producer Cudié from Barcelona has halal certified its products. Company boss Albert Cirujeda speaks about his halal strategy, the European market and fair wages.
Mr. Albert Cirujeda, you have been producing chocolate since 1946 and now you offer halal certified products. Why?
Well, for our company export sales have always been very important. The growth of our company relies significantly in selling abroad, and at the same time this is very rewarding because we learn a lot from other cultures. Arriving here, we certify our products as halal for several reasons: The first one is because in the main European countries we notice a growing demand for halal products. The Muslim population in European countries is growing every year and this situation causes a growing demand very interesting for us. In addition, our products are highly valued in Muslim countries, and for us countries like United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and all the countries of MENA area are strategic for us. The second one, is we didn’t know we already had a halal product without the need to do anything. Our product has no pig, alcohol, blood or insects ingredients. So it is perfect for the Muslim consumption. Therefore, it is not that we have certified some products as halal, but rather that our products were already halal. And the third one, we love to know new cultures, for us it is a very important knowledge. And the Muslim culture is one of the most important of the world. For this reason, we want to know how the Muslim people think, feel and live their life. For us creating products for the Muslim people is a very important challenge; and for this reason, the whole team has been formed in Muslim customs and traditions. We need to feel how the Muslim people feel, and then we will be able to create good Muslim products.
Who is your halal certifier and why did you choose this company?
Our halal certifier is Halal Food and Quality. We chose this company for its rigor and prestige in giving the halal certificates. For us it is not just a certificate, it’s a way to do the production, it is a way to do things in a correct way. It is a matter of a deep respect for the Muslim culture.
What makes your chocolate different from many others?
As you know, we are producing chocolate products since 1946, and our secret is to be different from all the others; and to achieve this goal there is only one way. Our secret is this; we do not buy chocolate. We buy the raw material separately and we formulate our own chocolate. That way our chocolate is always different from the others. You’ll like our chocolate, or not, but you can’t say it’s the same as the others.
In which target markets do you want to offer your halal products?
As a first step, our natural markets are the main European countries. We are already very introduced in them and our products are highly appreciated. In the second step, our main goal is introducing our products in the Middle east and North Africa countries. There are a good markets for our products because the capita income of these countries is medium-high or high. Our brand and products are located on high targets. Finally, our goal is reach southeast Asia. There are many Muslim people living in these countries and they are very important markets for us.
How important is the German market for you?
Germany market is one of the most important markets for us. We sell in foreign countries since 1992, and Germany was the first market where we sold our products. So Germany is a market which perfectly know our products. In many German cities, our product are sold very well and we have good clients in Germany. For us Germany is always a special market. In fact, every year many people of our company visit Germany because we always take part in the ISM fair. Is one of the most important fair in our sector. Germany is our second home. For many years, we have had a very special tie.
Through which distribution channels do you want to use to sell your halal chocolate?
We have many channels to sell our products, but the most common are the following. The gourmet shops is the most important channels for us. This kind of shops is a very good option for our products because the people who works in this kind of shops, can explain in detail the characteristics of our products, and this is always important. The big chains are always important too, because they have in their power a lot of sales capacity. Restaurants and companies that organize events are also a good channel for us. Our products can be bought in bulk, so we are a good option for an exclusive desert in a premium restaurant or an elegant option for an event. Finally, another channel that we use a lot is the companies which are engaged in corporate gift. Often our products are bought for exclusive gifts.
This year you presented your halal-certified products at the important food fair Gulfood in Dubai. How did your competitors and the visitors react to the products?
Well, Gulfood fair was a completely success for us. Many visitors visited our stand and tasted our products. The truth is that these are difficult times for the fairs, but in Gulfood everything was positive. Our goal was to find a good partner to be able to work in the Emirates, and in this sense it has been a great success. In reference to our competitors, probably because of the pandemic we did not see them in Gulfood.
Responsibility and sustainability: What are you doing to prevent the exploitation of people and nature in production?
Cudié is very committed to these issues. On the one hand Cudié is immersed in a strategic plan to leave behind all plastics in five years. On the other hand, obviously the company currently already recycles all its waste, and is also involved in reducing them to the maximum. Regard to the exploitation of people, Cudié follows a plan of equality between all its workers, with fair wages and schedules where they can reconcile family life and work life. We have always been pioneers in his field and we are proud of it.
Healthy eating is trendy. Is chocolate healthy?
I think it is. In my opinion almost all the products are healthy, and chocolate obviously too. I think it’s not so much if food are healthy or not, but rather the way we consume them. The most important thing is to have a very good balanced diet, and not to make excesses of any kind. For its part, chocolate has very good properties; for example it is a very good product to avoid lose the memory or to improve the process of learning.
Interview: Kemal Çalık