Food

Should A&W go halal? S’poreans engage in heated discussion

Singapore civil war 2.0 begins.

Photo: Shahsa Dania/Have Halal Will Travel

There was much joy and jubilation at A&W returning to Singapore after all these years. But less than a day after its opening, Singaporeans were already debating and taking sides on the halal issue.

So should A&W go halal? Let’s look at what netizens have to say.

Accusations of racism

A viral post by Jaslin Abdullah showed a screenshot of a comment asking A&W not to go halal.

Joanna claims that if A&W were to go halal, customers that would only go for pork would no longer have any other choices.

Jaslin tags A&W Singapore in turn, imploring them not to “give in to this racist”. Loosely translated, she adds that for someone who likes eating pork so much, she acts like a pig herself.

Harsh.

It seems A&W is put in between a rock and a hard place on this issue. Let’s take a look at how fast food chains have dealt with this issue.

Halal Subway = Singaporean civil war

Subway had all their restaurants go pork-free since March 2018 and as a result, has gotten their halal certificate in August, which was met with mixed reactions.

While many expressed support, equally loud voices condemned Subway to the extent of declaring boycotts. Here are some of the comments in response to the announcement.

Clear supporters

Folks against halal

Those looking at the business side of things

Those calling out the fact that 99% of these comments were made by trolls

So is halal good for business?

Subway Singapore’s strategy is to persevere through all the criticism because they’ve done their market research and they’re confident it’s good business sense.

While they are aware they might lose a chunk of their customer base, they expect to win them back in the long run. Not only that, they would open their doors up to a whole new eager Muslim segment in Singapore.

Whether this strategy is sound is another matter.

Halal isn’t easy

On the other hand, we have restaurants like Fish & Co and Delifrance that have gone the halal route and lost their certification last year. It appears that halal certification is an extremely stringent process which is not only costly but sometimes seemingly impossible.

Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) requires all affiliated companies with the same name to comply with halal standards, something that Delifrance Singapore cannot force the French-based Delifrance Singapore Wholesale to do.

Mr Samuel Tan, course manager of the Diploma in Retail Management at Temasek Polytechnic, offers a potential solution to bypass the complications.

“One strategy is to re-brand the business with selected halal outlets under a new name. For example, Han’s Cafe has rebranded to Hanis and likewise Aston’s restaurants to Andes.”

Several netizens concur.

Although A&W CEO Kevin Basner has previously announced in 2017 that outlets in Singapore would be Halal, perhaps A&W should take a few pointers from us first.

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