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Missing the boat, Part II

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

Certification woes. However, one unresolved issue continues to dog the industry: a harmonising global standard that will unify a fragmented industry and give consumers peace of mind. “There’s a considerable [volume] of imports to the GCC that’s not halal,” says Evans. “One can always find ways to get certificates, the most famous example being the import of pork with the halal symbol on it.”

Meanwhile, as an increasing number of importers and exporters urge governmental and religious bodies to formulate a global standard, each affected country continues to go its own way: Turkey imports some $200 million in halal products each year but doesn’t have an official halal certification system, while some Islamic exporting countries such as Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia, and even non-Islamic exporters such as Australia, observe halal codes strictly. Oddly, the UAE does not require businesses to specifically label halal products. In short, chaos prevails.

Since the launch last year of the GCC Common Market, the industry has petitioned local authorities to develop a gold standard so that local markets can compete internationally, says Lootah, who expresses concern about consumer confusion over “real halal”, hygiene and safety problems, and “the total absence of market data on the size of the halal food business and demand in the GCC region”, among other worries.

However, a solution may be near: in 2008, during the third World Halal Forum (WHF) held in Malaysia, delegates agreed to develop the International Halal Standard. The IHI Alliance has since been working on a draft, which was presented to the OIC Standards Committee in Jeddah last March. The draft will be endorsed by the 700 members of the Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) and the results will be made public this month at the fourth WHF.

“A huge market is getting its wheels to spin,” says Evans. “So now is a huge opportunity for Muslims to present what they have in a different light: something fantastic to offer to the world.”

It’s a pity the Arab world could well miss out.

First seen in Gulf Marketing Review magazine.

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