ABC News, November 9, 2014
An aggressive social media campaign pushing for a boycott on Halal products has forced a South Australian company to drop the accreditation and ditch a deal that was worth $50,000 a year.
The Fleurieu Milk and Yoghurt Company came under fire last week on its social media page with people suggesting the fee it paid to become Halal-certified was being used to fund terrorism.
Sales and marketing manager Nick Hutchinson said because of the campaign and a wish to avoid negative publicity the company decided to end its yoghurt supply deal with Emirates on Friday.
“The publicity we were getting was quite negative and something we probably didn’t need and we decided we would pull the pin and stop supplying Emirates Airlines,” Mr Hutchison said.
“Ninety per cent of it has been social media, but I have received calls from people that are quite unhappy, I guess, about our decisions and so forth, and [we have also received] a lot of emails.”
While many of these complaints came from interstate, and overseas, Mr Hutchinson said the company was worried the negativity would affect local customers.
“When our small customer base in South Australia are reading this and starting to question us we thought, yeah maybe the negatives outweigh the positive,” he said.
The company began about eight years ago, and about two years ago was presented with the opportunity to begin supplying Emirates with yoghurt.
But in order to secure the contract the company had to pay a $1,000 fee to become Halal certified.
“We thought this was a great coup for the company, it would bring great publicity, great advertising and we decided to go ahead with it,” Mr Hutchinson said.
“It’s been quite successful for the company, but unfortunately over the last few days, a lot of negative publicity has come in about this Halal certification and where this money, where we are paying fees is being spent.”
Losing the Emirates deal will impact on the business financially and Mr Hutchinson said some employees may lose some hours.
However he hoped the company could save its deal with Emirates, as its products do not contain gelatine.
“Milk as a dairy product does not have to be Halal certified by law, and neither does yoghurt, which we were supplying, unless it contains gelatine,” he said.
“Now our yoghurt doesn’t contain gelatine so we can definitely argue the fact that it doesn’t need to be certified for Emirates [but] they play it safe. Anything that goes on their planes needs to be certified, so if they’re asked, they can automatically answer ‘yes’.
“What we are going to try and do is get our products tested, get some certificates that prove that our products don’t contain gelatine and try to continue to supply Emirates, if they’ll give us permission without the certification, but I mean that is unlikely.”