Missing the boat, Part II
Countries around the world are scrambling to jump on board the hugely lucrative halal sector, except, that is, Arab countries, Part II.
June 14, 2009 7:45 by Nathalie Bontems
Shaking the tree. “Arab are cash-rich, so they could buy their way into the [international] halal industry,” suggests Evans. “They don’t have to produce everything by turning the desert green. They could actually control the industry.” According to the Philippines Department of Agriculture last February, a group of Saudi investors is looking into investing more than $240 million in the local farm and fisheries sectors in order to produce goods – including about $50 million in halal products – intended for export to the Middle East.
In line with diversification away from oil, and the growing prominence of green solutions, Arab companies would do well to better explore the global opportunities offered by intelligently marketed halal products. “With growing focus in the West on greener sources of energy, the ‘black gold’ from the Middle East may not hold as much value in the future,” says Hussain-Gambles. “The key to surviving the global recession is to think outside the box and invest in future businesses. Making your investments in green companies is also halal.”
Evans adds that the first thing Arab companies need to realise is “that their immediate competitors are international companies and that it’s not good enough to supply domestically. They need to be very clear about who their consumers are and who they’re marketing to, to make sure that their product, packaging [and] manufacturing process are up to standard. They need to raise their game.”
Not that the path is easy. “For Saaf, we had no problems getting in Western markets, but it’s taking longer to get into the Middle East,” says Hussain-Gambles. “Similarly, I would be lying if I said that there are no negative perceptions of doing business with the Middle East. I guess the solution lies with investing in a local partner rather than starting from scratch. Find a local business with potential, and invest and support them to grow.”