Friday, May 18, 2007

Halal Food Market

Malaysia plays host to Global Halal Forum

By Neil Merrett

08/05/2007- The World Halal Forum kicked off in Malaysia this week, as the country moves to become a global leader in production and distribution of the strictly defined certification.

Speaking during the event's opening yesterday, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi stressed the country's desire to further develop halal techniques not just domestically, but globally as well.

"The WHF together with its partner event the Malaysian International Halal Showcase (MIHAS) have been included in Malaysia's 15 Year Industrial Master Plan as annual events to boost the development of the halal sector," he said during his keynote speech.

The forum comes as a further sign of the opportunities, particularly in the food industry, for the country's halal processors and producers. An increasing number of companies are producing halal goods to tap into the billion dollar global demand.

Halal is an Islamic term for permissible, which in food terms constitutes an approved slaughter and preparation for products such as meat, in a similar vein to kosher products.

During the two day event, 900 representatives from over 30 countries, ranging from key industry players to raw material suppliers will meet to discuss the biggest issues facing the industry, like the implementation of international standards.

Badawi also used the forum to announce the formation of the International Halal Integrity (IHI) Alliance, a non-profit, non-government organization designed to represent views of everyone involved in the industry.

The event is also expected to set the agenda for the halal industry over the coming year with a number of memorandums of understandings to be signed to further develop production techniques and certification.

These include developing an information and communication technology with Microsoft, as well as financial services, and human resource development with Thailand's Chulalongkorn University.

With more than 1.8bn Muslims globally, the total size of global halal food and non-food (such as financial services, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics) industries is estimated at RM7.98 trillion (€1.5 trillion) with an expected growth rate of 10-20 per cent each year.

Though the global market for halal food has never been measured, industry estimates of its value range from $150bn (€110bn) to $500bn (€368bn).

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