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Monday, 6 October 2008

Malaysia as a model for halal industry

A better understanding of what the term halal constitutes is needed in order for industries associated with it to grow and for Malaysia to become a global hub.
Halal Industry Development Corporation Sdn Bhd (HDC) managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Jamil Bidin said society at large needed a better understanding of halal and its “true definition”.
HDC was established in September 2006 to coordinate the overall development of the halal industry in the country. Its main focus is the development of halal standards, auditing and certification, capacity-building for halal products and services as well as promoting and facilitating the growth and participation of local companies in the global halal market.
“Halal products are not just for Muslims but for everybody,” Jamil told StarBiz, adding that there was a move to change that perception amongst non-Muslims.
He added that HDC has the mandate to help change society’s perception of the halal label not just another label but as an assurance of quality, cleanliness and safety.
Jamil said that the halal business was very lucrative with the current global halal market valued at US$2.1 trillion. He said Malaysia provided the best global model for the halal industries and many countries had followed in it’s footsteps.
“Our halal logo is globally recognised and many countries have accepted our halal certification. We follow strict regulation when issuing halal certification to maintain a certain standard so that the world will know our halal products are processed at the highest standards,” he said.
Jamil said Malaysia has about 500 restaurants and 26 hotels with the halal certification and hope the number would grow in the future.
“The only hurdle now is that legislation for halal products still does not exist for enforcement purposes,” he said, adding that legislation was being drafted.
“Maybe, by next year we can get approval from the Government for the halal Act,” Jamil said. He said the Government supported the halal industries via specific funding.
Jamil said HDC acted as a facilitator for the halal industries because 98% of companies involved in these industries were small and medium enterprises, most of whom lack the financial capability to expand their business on a global scale.
“Apart from that ,we also work closely with the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) to help SMEs to participate in exhibitions around the world,” he said.
HDC also constantly communicates with the private sector and chambers of commerce to get feedback on how to improve efficiency in these industries. Jamil said the HDC was hoping to become a reference centre for training and certification. “Training is given especially to non-Muslim companies to teach them about the halal industries,” he said. There are three courses available for those interested in the halal industries.
Jamil said Malaysia’s halal industries should focus on four areas namely food items such as processed and canned food, halal ingredients for cosmetic and personal care and livestock.
“We import about RM800mil worth of beef on an annual basis and they are mostly from India.
“We should find ways on how to develop our own capability in producing beef for the market and not relying on imported beef,” he said.
Jamil added that halal beef and lamb products are currently dominated by non-Muslim countries such as Australia, Brazil and New Zealand, who exported to Muslim countries.
“Malaysia should take this opportunity to develop its livestock products because the halal beef and lamb market is very lucrative and has a lot of demand. It is expanding at 25% to 30% yearly.
According to him, HDC would spearhead Malaysia’s vision to develop the halal industries as a powerful market force, bringing the benefits of halal products and services to both Muslims and non-Muslims throughout the world.
(The Star, Malaysia/6Oct08)
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