Australian exporters set to profit from new halal trade market access in Malaysia

A man in a kufi and robes buys meat from a butcher.
There are about 700,000 Muslims in Australia who consume only halal certified products.(ABC News: Margaret Burin)

The global market for halal certified products is set to nearly double by 2030 and Australian exporters are in prime position to profit after recent trade negotiations, officials say.

Exporters are set to gain greater access to Malaysia’s rapidly growing food sector, which imports more than $190 million worth of halal certified Australian sheep meat per year, accounting for 71 per cent of all sheep meat in the country.

The new export opportunities follow the  the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) and Malaysia’s Halal Development Corporation.

Austrade Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner to Malaysia and Brunei Paul Sanda said Australia’s exports of goods and services to Malaysia totalled approximately $10 billion in 2020.

“With rising disposable incomes and a desire for high-quality products and services, there are growing opportunities for Australian businesses in Malaysia and beyond,” he said.

“The ASEAN region is home to around 240 million Muslims and globally the halal market is projected to increase from its current value of $4 trillion to $7tn in 2030.”

There are no Halal butchers in regional areas.
Australia’s exports of goods and services to Malaysia totalled approximately $10 billion in 2020.(ABC Goldfields: Madina Jaffari )

Australia a ‘top’ exporter

Islamic Coordinating Council of Victoria head of Shariah Affairs Bekim Hasani said Australia exported more than $2.36b worth of meat in 2021.

A man with short, dark hair and a neat, beard wearing a suit.
Dr Hasani says Australian halal products are highly sought after in Muslim countries.(Supplied: ICCV)

“Halal means everything that is lawful and permissible according to religious scripture, but it’s not just limited to Muslims,” he said.

“With other meat, the animal has to be slaughtered in a halal manner — the animals must be stunned prior to slaughter and they use very sharp knifes so the animals don’t feel any pain.”

Dr Hasani said most abattoirs in Australia were halal certified and required the presence of a Muslim supervisor.

“[Organization of Islamic Cooperation] OIC countries like Malaysia and Indonesia, they import meat and dairy products from Australia because it’s not just halal that’s important, but also food safety standards,” he said.

“Australia is one of the top countries in the world that export dairy products and red meat to Muslim countries, on top of Brazil, Argentina and India.”

An infographic explaining the meaning of halal.
Dr Bekim says everything lawful and permissible according to Islamic religious scripture qualifies as halal.(ABC News: Jarrod Fankhauser)

More markets to open

Mr Sanda said strengthening ties with the Malaysian market would also open up more export access to regions like Indonesia and the Middle East.

“Australian beef and sheep meat exports, also our cereals, juices and dairy – just to name a few – are really welcome in Malaysia,” he said.

“In Malaysia we’re also seeing really increasing interest from cosmetic and skincare producers, supplement manufacturers, to look really closely at certification because of the peace of mind halal certification brings to Muslim consumers in these markets.”

The memorandum supports the Australian government’s $72.7 million Agribusiness Expansion Initiative to help the agriculture sector’s ambition to increase the value of farm gate output to $100 billion by 2030.