Halal industry should think global, produce for the world

Local SMEs should start making halal international delicacies for global market, instead of focusing on Malaysian foods

By P PREM KUMAR & RAHIMI YUNUS / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

IT IS a well-known fact that Malaysians, particularly the Muslim community, would always travel overseas with easy-to-cook food packets and instant noodles.

The major reason for it is simple: It is hard to find halal food and beverages (F&B) on foreign land.

Arguably Malaysians are loyal to their “sambal tumis” and “teh tarik”, wherever they go, but it could be a daunting task to find halal foods abroad.

Thus, it is even not surprising to see a Malaysian family bringing mortar and pestle in their luggage during travel.

Imagine enjoying Australian meat pies, French macarons, Japanese ramen and Vietnamese pho soup in the countries of its origin with peace of mind.

That is the dream which Malaysian halal food manufacturers should strive to fulfil, according to Entrepreneur Development Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof.

This, in essence, also shows how big the halal market is globally.

Mohd Redzuan believes local companies should start making halal international delicacies for global market, instead of focusing on Malaysian foods.

“We should be more aggressive in selling our expertise. We know the processes and we have the entire halal ecosystem, why not put it to use?” he said during an exclusive interview with The Malaysian Reserve recently.

Sell Expertise
In the current borderless world, there are halal instant sambal (chilli paste), fried rice or rendang pastes available in major markets.

However, one’s travel would be incomplete without trying a local delicacy, at least.

“One of the stereotypes that we want to disrupt is Malaysia’s context on halal food. Malaysia has a population of 32 million, but we do not have a (huge) market if we just produce halal food with Malaysian taste,” Mohd Redzuan said.

Mohd Redzuan says the global halal market demands for halal processes, which Malaysia is well-positioned to export the expertise

He said small and medium enterprises (SMEs) need to diversify their halal products from mere food making to exporting expertise on halal certification and processes.

The minister added that such an approach would expand their halal products offerings, while creating domino effects in attracting fresh foreign direct investments into the country.

“The SMEs lack in understanding of the marketplace and processes. For example, they should be adventurous enough to produce halal teriyaki sauce for the Japanese people,” he said.

Mohd Redzuan said the global halal market demands for halal processes, which Malaysia is well-positioned to export the expertise, attributable to its leading position in the global halal sector.

He said the knowledge of halal processes could also be capitalised to grow under-explored industries in the halal ecosystem such as logistics, manufacturing, consumer goods, shipments and pharmaceuticals.

Malaysia has been leading the halal industry since the early part of the millennium, which resulted in the country’s halal exports reaching RM43 billion in 2017.

Halal Development Corp (HDC), an agency tasked to promote the halal industry, has projected the figure to hit RM50 billion by 2020 on the back of the growing Muslim population that is estimated to be at 27% of the world’s population by 2030.

Besides that, other countries where the majority are non-Muslims namely — China, the US, Japan, Brazil and the UK — are catching up with Malaysia to develop their own halal industry, having recognised the sector’s potential.

Thomson Reuters Corp’s State of the Global Islamic Economy 2017/18 report stated that the Islamic economy will be worth US$3 trillion (RM12.3 trillion) by 2021, comprising halal food, Islamic finance, halal travel, modest fashion, halal media and recreation, halal pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.

Malaysia Halal Expo 2019
Leveraging on Malaysia’s worldwide reputation as a leading global halal hub, the Ministry of Entrepreneur Development and relevant agencies are organising the Malaysia Halal Expo 2019, aiming to provide opportunities for Malaysian SMEs to export their halal products and services to Japan.

The event — to be held from tomorrow till Jan 26, 2019, at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre — is poised to prepare local SMEs for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 by providing the local community with vast trading and networking opportunities in the growing Japanese halal market.

Both Malaysia and Japan had inked a memorandum of commitment to increase trade value including in the halal sector ahead of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.

Besides the sporting event, the memorandum will also facilitate the development of halal certification, halal tourism and halal supply chain in the country.

The Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 will host over 45,000 athletes and officials, creating a halal market worth US$300 million, particularly in the F&B segment.

The exhibition is envisioned to be the venue for business-matching sessions that involve 20 potential Japanese buyers such as FamilyMart Co Ltd and Ohga Pharmacy Co Ltd.

“Malaysia Halal Expo 2019 is an excellent platform for Malaysian SMEs focusing on halal products and services to venture and penetrate into the Japanese market.

“The ministry hopes that this opportunity will be seized by the SMEs for heightened brand exposure and most importantly, establish rewarding business networks,” Mohd Redzuan said.

The minister said SMEs should maintain a good reputation and quality for their products and services, for their partnership with their Japanese counterparts to grow beyond the Olympic Games.

The expo 2019 is expected to attract 10,000 visitors via some 300 booths to promote halal products and services by entrepreneurs that are export-ready, as well as a variety of knowledge sharing sessions.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail is expected to open the event.