Bangladesh: Bengal Meat basks in Halal boom

Kamrun Nahar
Bengal Meat Processing Industries, an internationally certified meat producer and exporter, expects to ring up Tk 400 million in overseas sales this year by doubling its halal meat export.

The company was recently awarded halal certification by the Department of Islamic Development, Malaysia (JAKIM), which allows it to export processed meat to any halal market around the world.

“We now export 1000 tonnes meat a year and our target is to make 5000 tonnes by 2012,” Mazharul Islam, managing director of Bengal Meat, told the FE in an interview.

He said they exported processed meat worth Tk 200 million last year.

The export market is confined to a few Middle Eastern countries like Kuwait, UAE and Saudi Arabia for the last seven years, mainly targetting expatriate Bangladeshis and other ethnic Muslims in those countries, only adding Malaysia to the list this year.

Dato Tan Lian Hoe, deputy minister for trade of Malaysia, welcomed the Bangladeshi meat processing company, which has achieved the certification of her country during the opening ceremony of a three-day Malaysian trade fair in the city.

She also visited the Bengal Meat factory at Pabna further facilitating the entry of Bangladeshi halal processed meat to the Malaysian market.

Mr Islam said that his factory, the only ISO certified meat processing company, can be compared with any international standard factory but stressed the government’s effort to ensure certain issues for the development of meat processing industry in Bangladesh.

“The process of entering the Malaysian market began almost two and half years ago. We as a factory had no problem to be approved by any country but the government must ensure animal health management, disease control and disease free zone to promote Bangladesh as a meat exporting country,” he said.

Although Bangladesh has the 7th largest cattle population in the world, it has one of the lowest per capita meat consumption.

“Generally, a person should intake 100 to 110 gm of protein. In Bangladesh, the per capita meat consumption is 12 gm,” Mr. Islam added.

He said about 10,000 cows are producing about 1000 tonnes of meat and 40,000 goats producing about 300 tonnes are slaughtered everyday in the country.

He added the per capita meat consumption is bound to increase as the per capita income increases.

Bangladesh has to ensure the importing countries that the meat exported does not contain any hazardous elements and germs, said Mr Islam, adding “it requires an international testing lab.”

The government earlier had a plan to form a high-profile committee to recommend ways to establish a board for certification for halal foods after repeated appeals from processed food exporters and setting up of a testing lab which is yet to see light.

Mr Islam said the most important thing for the growth of this sector is backward linkage and ensuring quality cattle raising to be an internationally approved meat exporting country.

He said developed countries like Australia and New Zealand have turned around their economy by harvesting the huge potential of their dairy farm sector, which also can be a prospective industry for Bangladesh too by having the right attitude towards the sector.

“The economy of Bangladesh is based on agriculture and cattle raising. People now just to learn the process of raising quality cattle and policy to make the sector commercially viable,” he added.