There is an urgency for Malaysia to have an in-house manufacturing plant, or at least an incubator project
By AFIQ AZIZ / Graphic By TMR
Local pharmaceutical companies have to import up to 2,000 tonnes of halal gelatine annually, as the material is hardly produced in the country despite high demand.
Universiti Malaysia Pahang (UMP) deputy vice chancellor of research and innovation Prof Datuk Dr Mashitah Mohd Yusoff said a research conducted by UMP and two major pharmaceutical groups in the country revealed that apart from medical purposes, 60% of the total imported material is for the food and beverage industry.
On their own, Pharmaniaga Bhd and CCM Pharmaceuticals Sdn Bhd are importing 500 tonnes of halal gelatine a year for domestic consumption.
“They estimate that for the entire country’s local pharmaceutical market, it requires not less than 2,000 tonnes of halal gelatine in a year,” she told The Malaysian Reserve on the sidelines of the Malaysia International Halal Showcase 2018 yesterday.
She said since local companies have to import gelatine, which would push the cost higher, Malaysian authorities are also facing difficulties in determining the authenticity of the imported halal product.
Currently, Malaysian manufacturers are importing halal gelatine mainly from Pakistan and India.
“As such, there is an urgency for us to have an in-house manufacturing plant, or at least an incubator project that could be at UMP, for the shorter run,” Mashitah said.
It was reported last month that the incubator, which was built on a 1.8ha parcel of land at UMP, costs around RM20 million.
It will be ready for operations only by next year, as it has to undergo equipment testing procedure.
The incubator project, jointly developed by UMP and Majlis Amanah Rakyat, will have the capacity to produce up to 360 tonnes of gelatine annually, which would cater for the domestic consumption.
“However, for us to produce the real halal gelatine, we need halal sources. It is estimated that to produce one tonne of gelatin from beef elements, or what we call bovine, we’d require between 80 and 100 heads of cows slaughtered according to the halal requirement,” she said.
At present, Mashitah said the supply is not able to meet the high demand.
“This shortage of sources is something that must be tack-led to ensure our incubator will be capitalised at the fullest (capacity),” she said.
She said Malaysian Muslims currently spend some RM1.1 billion on pharmaceutical products, and the figure is projected to grow by 9.5% to reach RM1.9 billion in 2021.