Halal food, anyone?

by AFP, Nov 28, 2006 | Destinations: Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, Nov 21, 2006 - World trade in halal products, which comply with Islamic standards, is expected to grow by 10-20 percent a year from an estimated 2.1 trillion dollars, experts said on Tuesday.

"The reasons driving growth in the market are partly because people spend more money on food," said Abdalhamid Evans, director of research at KasehDia, consultants to the Malaysian government on the halal industry.
"It is also partly because of the awareness of consuming halal goods and there are more halal products on offer," Evans told AFP.

He said as the "big players" realise the potential of the global market for halal goods, there has been a more concerted effort to certify goods as halal.

"The demand is huge but the supply is falling short of the demand in terms of quality, quantity and variety," Evans said.
Evans said more non-Muslim consumers were also purchasing halal food because it is a "healthy food option which is being monitored and audited in a way that other food is not."

The government on Tuesday inked a deal with British-based certification and audit company, Intertek Group, to position itself as a world leader in halal authorization.  Halal certification is increasingly sought after by manufacturers in a bid to tap into the lucrative Muslim consumer market.

"With a market as large as this and one that will grow in the future, it still lacks a common set of guidelines," Jamil Bidin, chief executive officer of Malaysia's Halal Industry Development Corporation (HDC), said. "We want manufacturers and consumers to accept the halal standard as a global brand with a certification that harmonises the various halal guidelines in the Muslim world," Jamil said.

HDC was created to promote Malaysia's ambitions of becoming a world "halal hub". The corporation aims to develop halal standards, certification and procedures, and to improve the skills of halal producers.

Under the concept of halal -- meaning "permissible" in Arabic -- pork and its by-products, alcohol and animals not slaughtered according to Koranic procedures are all "haram" or forbidden.

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