Brazil: Halal market offers exporters an opportunity

Association Abiec, companies and government agencies held a workshop on rising Muslim meat exports, which amounted to US$ 1.5 billion in 2012. Abiec also presented an e-seal to reduce red tape.

Marcos Carrieri*

imagemSão Paulo – Brazilian exports of Halal meat, i.e. meat produced in accordance with Islamic precepts, were up 447% in revenues and 76% in volume in the past ten years, and amounted to US$ 1.5 billion in 2012. According to Workshop Halal Brasil, held this Tuesday (11th) in Brasília, there is still plenty of space for growth in the market, and Brazilian companies may seize the opportunity.

The event was held by the Brazilian Meat Exporting Industries Association (Abiec), the Federation of Muslim Associations in Brazil (Fambras) and the Brazilian Export and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex Brasil).

According to Abiec executive director Fernando Sampaio, the Muslim market for meats is growing, and currently it accounts for nearly one third of Brazilian meat exports. “We are hosting this event to show how halal slaughter is done in Brazil, with credibility and reliability,” said Sampaio. At the workshop, questions were also answered about halal slaughter procedures. The audience was primarily composed of ambassadors, Brazilian government officials and delegates from companies.

At the event, Abiec introduced its e-seal, a device developed in partnership with the University of São Paulo (USP), Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture, the Institute of Software Technologies and Ceitec, a semiconductor manufacturer.

The seal is equipped with a chip and allows a beef container to be released by inspection agencies approximately one-and-a-half hour after it reaches the port. An experimental project in the Port of Santos last April showed that this way, the cargo is cleared 57 hours earlier than when using paper documentation, which must be sent to a bureau of the Ministry of Agriculture before it is allowed to pass.

With halal meat, the chip will contain basic information about the container (such as type of meat, date of processing, and manufacturing unit numbers), and data pertaining to the actual halal slaughter, such as a report from the inspector in charge. “This increases the amount of information and thus the credibility of Brazilian beef,” said Sampaio.

Within a month, the e-seal will be commercially implemented in Brazil’s ports, although the slaughter data will not be included yet. Sampaio explains that another 45 days will be needed before that happens, because the certifier organizations’ systems will require modification. “The companies and foreign delegates attending the workshop expressed their interest in seeing how the e-seal will be adopted in Brazil, because it is the first of its kind in the world,” said Sampaio.

Halal slaughter

Several products must abide by halal rules, dictated by Islamism, so they can be consumed by Muslims. In the case of beef, halal slaughter sets forth that the animal must be healthy; slaughter is to be performed only by a Muslim; and blood must be completely drained from the animal. The bovine is also to endure as little suffering as possible. The procedure needs to be inspected by a Muslim.

According to Abiec, in 2012 Brazil exported 367,000 tonnes of beef to 38 Muslim countries in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia. In 2012, the main buyers of Brazilian halal meat were Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Libya, Angola, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Algeria and Kuwait.

*Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum