IN Malaysia, the word halal is no longer a foreign term anymore.
Halal, in terms of food and drinks, simply means foods that are permissible for Muslims to consume under Islamic syariah law.
The criteria specify both what foods are allowed, and how the food must be prepared.
However, there is much more than just the halal stamps that we see inked on products in the supermarket.
In fact, it has become one of the fastest growing industries in the world that is raking in trillions of dollars every year, and is expected to grow further in the coming years.
The global halal market is currently estimated at US$2.3 trillion, covering both food and non-food sectors.
It is expected that the sector would be worth some US$6.4 trillion in 2018, with the increasing Muslim population, which is estimated to grow to 8.2 billion in 2030 from 1.8 billion currently.
Having been in this halal business for some 40 over years, Malaysia became the pioneer in the halal industry that began in 1974 and has quickly grown to be the global reference and trade centre for the new mainstream halal industry.
Despite the maturing market, there are misconceptions that needed to be fixed.
“One of the biggest challenges that we face now is to correct a very serious perception on the halal industry in Malaysia,” said Halal Industry Development Corporation (HDC) chief executive officer Datuk Seri Jamil Bidin.
He said that many tend to compare Malaysia’s halal industry with other countries, and having the impression that there are other countries more developed in this industry.
“This misconception is very common. My question is how do you measure between Malaysia and other countries?
“Other countries don’t have a tracking system to measure halal exports. They have food export data but not anything specified on halal,” he explained.
Jamil said Malaysia is the only country in the world that has developed a system called halal Data Warehousing System which monitors halal exports every month in a more holistic approach.
To name a few, the system generates the Halal Export report and the Malaysian Halal certified companies profiling.
“To me, we need to reach out and create awareness because due to this misconception I feel that Malaysia’s success in becoming the leader in halal industry has been denied,” he noted.
He said Malaysia has the complete ecosystem for the industry, with blueprints and master plans that are very systematic.
“In other countries, they don’t have that. It’s very scattered, even in the Middle East. In Saudi Arabia, there’s no agenda for the halal industry, they only import but not develop,” Jamil said.
He said the business in Malaysia has grown more than expected as the corporation only targeted some RM19bil in halal export come 2020.
However, for last year alone, the number has ballooned to RM38bil from RM32bil the previous year.
As such, the HDC would be organising the Halal Ingredients Asia 2015, with the focus of emphasising the importance of opportunities for local halal ingredient players to international buyers.
This is because halal ingredients, essential to the development of halal products, is strongly supported by the palm oil derivatives.
“We are the biggest halal ingredient supplier because we have a lot of palm oil. It’s a good substitute for animal oil in emulsifiers and shortenings to name a few,” he said.
He said the idea behind the event is to create awareness on the importance of halal ingredients, as a product is not deemed halal if one element in it is not.
HDC is trying to rope in more Malaysian companies into the halal ingredient business as it is fast becoming a big industry.
The corporation is also looking into developing halal vaccine business, where it is focusing on a Saudi Arabian-owned plant, which will begin operations in 2017.
“We are looking at making vaccines halal as some of the vaccines are pig-based, so we are looking for alternatives. With some 1.8 billion Muslims around the globe, we can make a breakthrough as it is such a big market and no country has produced halal vaccines yet,” he said.
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