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Sun 10 Feb 2008 04:00 AM

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Call for clearer Halal standards

Al Islami Foods has urged local authorities to consolidate the region's Halal market.

Al Islami Foods has urged local authorities to consolidate the region's Halal market.

As key players in the industry, the company emphasised the need for the formation of steering committees, comprised of key stakeholders, to spearhead the process, which is intended to enable the local markets to develop capabilities that would allow it to compete on the international stage.

At the recent Halal World Expo and Islamic Business Forum, held at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, Mustafa Jassem, marketing manager for Al Islami Foods, presented a series of recommendations to delegates from the Middle East, United States, Europe and Southeast Asia, touching on central issues in the Halal industry.

He spoke about the ongoing consumer dilemma over ‘real Halal', as well as possible guidelines and standardisation that would benefit the industry. Also on the agenda were issues of best practice in Halal food processing, research and development and hygiene and safety.

Finally, he criticised the "total absence of market data on the size of Halal food business and demand in the GCC region".

He estimated the annual value of the global Halal food market alone at US $2.1 trillion and said that in order to be able to maximise the industry's potential there was a "dire need to launch global standards acceptable to all regions and religions".

"Different countries, regional players and corporations are pursuing the various opportunities of the Halal market. To truly harness it, [however], benchmarks are being developed.

According to Christine Weaver, exhibition director for Halal World Expo, the Halal food market currently accounts for 12% of global trade in food products, a figure that is set to grow.

"The Muslim population is projected to constitute 30% of the world's population by 2025, meaning Halal food could easily account for 20% of world trade in food products in the future," she stated.

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