Around the world, demand for halal products and services is growing. Figures show that the global halal industry is set to grow between US$3 trillion (RM12.55 trillion) and US$4 trillion in the next five years, from the current US$2 trillion, and this will be backed by increasing demand from both Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
The growing Muslim population globally and their increasing income levels, coupled with the rising awareness of halal in general, are among some of the significant propellers of this growth.
Specifically, Asia is a crucial contributor to setting the direction of the international halal market, given that close to two-thirds of the global Muslim population reside in the region.
However, a more notable driver for the growth is the fact that halal is now moving beyond merely being a mark of religious observance. For many consumers — be they Muslims or non-Muslims — halal certification today represents a hallmark of reliability, food/product safety and hygiene.
In some ways, the concept of halal has now been “demystified”.
With this, it is no surprise then that companies around the world are waking up to the potential of this diverse and rapidly expanding market — and New Zealand companies are no exception to this.
Our food brands, in particular, such as SHOTT Beverages, ANZCO Food, and Angel Bay Beef and Lamb recognise the benefits of seizing the halal opportunity in the region, especially in Malaysia, and how unlocking this opportunity can lead to better business growth.
For many years now, Malaysia has been a key partner for New Zealand companies looking to expand their halal offerings to consumers in this part of the world.
Geographically, Malaysia is uniquely located in Southeast Asia to act as a hub for the sales, production and transhipment of halal products, providing a good gateway to the region for New Zealand companies.
Furthermore, Malaysia’s status as a world leader in the halal economy makes the country a clear choice for New Zealand companies looking for halal certification to partner with.
As part of the partnership, the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ) works closely with Malaysia’s Department of Islamic Development (Jakim) to ensure that food products coming from New Zealand into Malaysia are equipped with the proper certification when it comes to halal.
Jakim also makes trips to New Zealand to visit various food plants and educate local companies on what halal certification entails and the steps that need to be taken to ensure that their products are compliant with the halal standards in Asia.
This creates a transparent and efficient certification process for New Zealand businesses, and helps to change any pre-existing perceptions that they might have about the process such as it being a lengthy and expensive one.
It also helps steer these New Zealand business away from the traditional mindset of halal certification being just a religious mark.
On New Zealand’s part, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise is also working with local companies to build halal compliance into the business models of the companies, especially the new ones. This means that instead of coming into the Malaysian market first and then getting the halal mark to meet consumer needs, we work with the companies to ensure that their facilities, supply chain processes and products are all halal compliant even before entering the market.
This will not only reduce the time take to succeed in Malaysia’s halal market, but also ensure that our local companies have a competitive advantage in meeting the wider consumer needs right from the point of entry into the market.
To date, more than 90 per cent of our beef and lamb products are compliant with Malaysia’s halal standards. As a result, we witnessed over 60 per cent year-on-year growth last year in halal beef and lamb imported from New Zealand into Malaysia.
Companies like Wellington-based SHOTT Beverages have also seen the sales of their naturally-flavoured syrups grow by more than 150 per cent in Malaysia in the year after gaining halal certification.
It is clear through such results that Malaysia, with its global halal hub status, offers huge business opportunities for New Zealand food companies that embrace the halal economy — and this then contributes to the growth of New Zealand’s food industry.
This halal opportunity is further unlocked with significant developments in Malaysia, such as the strong growth of e-commerce and the recently established Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ).
The DFTZ, in particular, will better allow halal-compliant New Zealand companies — especially the relatively small ones — to go through the e-commerce route and establish a new distribution channel that allows them to reach their consumers directly.
Countries outside South East Asia, too, are taking steps towards halal compliance.
For example, in preparation for the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and Olympics in 2020, Japanese businesses are embracing halal opportunities in recognition of this growing market.
Jakim in Malaysia has emerged as a key adviser in navigating these changes.
Furthermore, the general halal market is also expected to develop further in sectors other than just food.
Halal compliance is set to grow in sectors like supplements, nutraceuticals and even cosmetic products — all of which provide more opportunities for New Zealand companies to tap into the halal consumer market in Malaysia and expand their businesses throughout the region.
New Zealand Trade Commissioner
New Zealand Trade and Enterprise