MUCH has been said about our own ‘Brunei Halal Branding’ (BHB) activities.
It is now a recognised brand because of its stringent procedures and processes for obtaining the Halal certification, giving high confidence to Muslim consumers to consume the certified products.
Before it was recognised internationally, the Brunei Halal products did not give much benefit to the country.
Now, with the global acceptance, consumers can use Brunei Halal branded products from other countries as well.
Currently, a number of countries are making their products with BHB, and therefore a lot of these products are now available in countries such as UK, Spain and China; and they are also now available in Brunei markets.
Does Brunei Darussalam get the economic benefit from this branding?
If we look at the region, we can see that Malaysia, Indonesia and surprisingly Thailand are actively promoting their own ‘Halal’ branding as well as making a lot of efforts to become the regional hub for Halal products.
Believe it or not Singapore is also a leading country in this activity taking advantage of its ports well known for transshipment activities.
The existing activities of BHB products can be divided into three scenarios:
- BHB products from outside the country are imported into Brunei. From this activity, basically the revenue comes from the Halal certification and sales of the products in Brunei markets by Brunei companies.
- BHB products made in countries such as UK and are on sale at markets there. In this case, the revenue comes from certification and no Brunei companies are benefitting from sales of these products as they are sold by sales outlets or supermarkets based in those countries.
- BHB products made domestically and then sold in the local market.
Many of these products are not exported as there is no economies of scale if the volumes are small.
Nevertheless, it is a good start and our next step is to help this industry grow – for the benefit of our local small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Now if we combine the vision of Brunei Darussalam to become ‘Negara Zikir’ and the implementation of ‘Syariah law in this country, it is obvious that the Brunei Halal branding can become highly respected and the Sultanate can be the right country to become the Halal hub of the region.
It is not a surprise that several international companies have come to Brunei requesting permission to use the BHB. The relevant authority has appointed a local company as the agent of this BHB and this company is in cooperation with one of the famous logistics companies from Hong Kong.
Are we happy with the current developments? Who made the most profits in the above mentioned scenarios?
Of course, our local SMEs have made a small profit from their small investments.
But Halal certification is unlikely to rake in huge profits although the price of getting the certification is not that cheap, but the procedures to issue the certificate is expensive that involve a number of qualified officers and a plethora of costs such as for travelling, accommodation and so on.
It is obvious that the agent is the biggest beneficiary.
I am not saying that this is an unhealthy scenario, but we need to know how transparent this agent system is. Are the agents given the exclusive rights? What are their roles? Are they promoters, distributers or sellers? If they are given exclusive rights, then it becomes unhealthy, I should say.
In a nutshell, Brunei Darussalam is not going to get much economic benefits from these Halal activities. Our SMEs will remain as local players and it would be extremely hard for them to penetrate international markets.
Still, a lot can be done to maximise opportunities offered by the BHB. We need to act quickly before this golden opportunity turns silver then bronze and at eventually with no value at all.
Relevant stakeholders need to sit down together and formulate the right strategies. Let us work together to make our very own Halal branding beneficial to Brunei’s SMEs before foreign companies make the most of it.
– PMY, Kearah Mencapai Wawasan 2035