Date of Award

4-2018

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Geography

First Advisor

Gregory Veeck, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Charles W. Emerson, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Lucius F. Hallett, IV, Ph.D.

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access

Abstract

With a population of 3.2 million and growing in the US, Arab Americans are an integral part of the economy and culture of the United States and the world. The southeast portion of the state of Michigan is home to more than 300,000 Arab Americans. One of the main agents of cultural maintenance and support for the Arab American community are their ethnic food traditions, specifically Halal food. Since the introduction of Halal food in the United States, the sales and consumption of Halal products has increased immensely. This research seeks to answer four related questions focused on the entrance of larger, retail food corporations into this market segment traditionally occupied by smaller scale ethnic food stores.

An online survey of 174 Halal food purchasers collected between June 1st and August 1st, 2017 forms the core of my mixed method research project which also includes informal interviews with store owners, and survey of Dearborn’s business directories. This study concludes that regardless of age, gender, or educational background religious reasons are main driver behind people’s Halal food purchase. Furthermore, the findings of this research reveals that the smaller, ethnic stores have not been affected by the entrance of the larger food retailers into the Halal market segment. The results of this study are consistent with previous studies indicating the Muslim shoppers as the main agents behind the rise of Halal products. This target market is young, highly educated, and dedicated to their culture and heritage.

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