Estepa Halal Mantecado, to conquer the world
Two of the workers of Productos Gamito knead a huge tray with the mixture that will form a new batch of mantecados of Estepa. At first glance there is no difference with the texture of other containers that are in a different wing of the facility. It is when you arrive at the packaging area, when you approach the machines that wrap each of the sweets, when you can see some Arabic letters on the wrappers, where you can also read the Halal distinctive.
This factory, with 52 years of making Christmas sweets behind it, was the first to open the doors of a new market with projection for the traditional mantecados and polvorones from Estepa fifteen years ago. Its manager, José María Gamito, recalls that "it all started when one of our distributors in Melilla, who is Muslim, gave us the idea that if we made a product without lard we could open ourselves to a broader type of consumer".
The general secretary of the Mantecados y Polvorones de Estepa Regulatory Council, José María Fernández explains that through the certification of the Halal Institute, people of Muslim faith are guaranteed "that the foods that bear their official seal comply with the precepts of this religion regarding food. or drink.
He highlights that this seal allows mantecados and polvorones to overcome barriers to enter countries where this certification is mandatory. "Halal certification gives access to more than 57 emerging countries and more than 1,700 million potential customers worldwide (44 million in Europe), two million Muslim citizens and another two million Muslim tourists in Spain," says José María to ABC Province.
Dulces Gamito already exports to Ceuta, Melilla, Morocco or the United Arab Emirates, but also to European countries with a high percentage of Muslim population such as Holland, Germany, France, Belgium or also Spain.
At its facilities, two differentiated production lines are carried out for traditional and Halal products. The latter substitute lard for vegetable oils such as olive oil, and the alcohol in products such as wine rolls with anise. As in the production of gluten or lactose free products, the separation of food in different work areas and machines is crucial.
A muslim in the factory
Sahrawi Muslim Mahfloud Abidin Hamadi has almost inadvertently become the biggest guarantor for all Halal requirements to be met. Mahfoud has been working at Gamito Products for ten years and was already part of the staff when the company began to do the first tests to create this new type of product.
Born in El Aaiún (Sahara) and of Muslim creed, he naturally knows the customs and production processes and has served as a transmission belt so that his colleagues understand how important it is for the Muslim consumer that these norms are complied with. .
“Products are always kept separately in the factory. Halal is always in place, no mixtures of other products that use lard are left and they are kept in their own well-marked chambers, ”he explains.
The Halal Institute itself is in charge of making visits every year to analyze samples of the sweets and to check the correct production process, but the presence of Mahfoud has undoubtedly been an extra reason for security.
BORJA MORENO - ESTEPA - 09/23/2016