DUBAI // The world's first range of halal baby food is about to go on sale across the UAE, offering mothers convenience and a guarantee that all the ingredients have been prepared in accordance with Islamic law.
The VitaMeal Baby range was the first of its kind when it was launched four years ago by Moroccan company Agro-Food Industrie, though competitors have now entered the market. The pots of fruit, vegetables, meats and fish have since gone on sale across North Africa as well as in France, Holland and other European countries.
Now the company has signed a deal with Dubai-based distributor El Majd covering the UAE and other Gulf states, and the agreement means that for the first time halal baby food containing meat will be available in the Emirates.
The range is being showcased at the Gulfood show, which opened yesterday and continues at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre until Wednesday.
"The first container of the food is due to arrive in Dubai this week and it will go on sale in supermarkets, including Carrefour and Aswaaq, across the UAE next month," said Agro-Food manager Philippe Charot. "There are about 30 different halal varieties."
El Majd general manager Rachid Ouhammou said: "It's good for mums. You just open it and heat it for five minutes and it's ready. It will cost the same as other baby foods: about Dh10 a pot. There are no pesticides, preservatives or colourants."
The range includes hake with rice and salmon with carrot, while meat and poultry varieties include chicken couscous, beef tagine, veal with green beans and spaghetti bolognaise.
Mr Ouhammou added: "Meat is very important for babies."
Parents visiting the show were divided about the idea of halal baby food, with some welcoming the improved convenience while others said they would prefer to prepare meals for their babies themselves.
Mariam Al Shaikh, a mother of two young children from Saudi Arabia, said she would definitely have used the product if it had been available when her youngsters were little.
Ali Ghadeer, a father from Saudi Arabia, said: "I think it's a good way to market their products; it's convenient."
Other halal foods that are being showcased at Gulfood include Otrimix oats porridge, which manufacturer PomeFresh from Singapore is targeting at those suffering from diabetes and obesity - conditions that are common in the Middle East.
UK firm Kohlico Brands is hoping to sign up a Middle East distributor for its range of halal noodles. Its instant noodles come in six flavours, including chicken, beef, seafood and curry.