Can’t Have Brunei Halal Seal For A Song

Written by Hadi DP Mahmud 

Brunei Halal LogoBandar
Seri Begawan

– Small businesses involved in the national halal agenda
need to improve their understanding of branding as a tool to
successfully market their products overseas and create joint-venture
opportunities with foreign firms in the future, said the permanent
secretary at the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources (MIPR).

“They have to understand the structure… because the commercial
deals (part of the Brunei Halal Brand) later on will require them to
cut a deal with other companies,” Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Hamid Hj Mohd
Jaafar said yesterday following a workshop organised by the ministry
for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) involved in the Brunei Halal

Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Hamid stressed it is imperative that these SMEs
understand what it means to be “riding on Brunei Darussalam’s image”
and widen their scope of possibilities.

“(The national halal agenda) is not only about selling halal food
… providing halal logistics is another, for example. Or even halal
software, or software that helps deliver the halal product,” he said.
These solutions address concerns like how to transport the goods and
ensure the halal integrity doesn’t get compromised anywhere along the
line, he added.

Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Hamid said this is the kind of confidence that
needs to be instilled by establishing halal-compliant logistics,
pointing out there are already existing companies elsewhere in the
world that provide these kinds of services.

With a majority of the SMEs in the Sultanate considered cottage
industries, one of the biggest challenges facing these small
enterprises is in acquiring the necessary certifications to meet
internationally-accepted standards.

“For companies like that to be involved in the Brunei halal
programme, you can see that they have to come up to a whole different
level,” said Abdalhamid David Evans, a senior analyst at Imarat
Consultants who is currently working with the ministry on a consultancy
basis for the national halal agenda. He is also responsible for
organising the annual International Halal Expo.

Cottage industries have distinct challenges, he said, and it’s not
easy for them to acquire internationally-accepted norms in the food

“They need to operate out of proper business or manufacturing
premises. And one of the ideas that came up was having a standard
compliant facility that could be shared by these cottage industries,”
he said. Yesterdays workshop listed several key issues faced by the

“The whole question of having access to raw materials, how to be
competitive internationally … (among others) are not things that will
be solved overnight,” said Abdalhamid.

“But they’re also not insoluble problems so I think it’s a matter of
looking exactly at what the issues are and you can see that some of the
SMEs are like cottage industries – there are certain challenges and
issues that face them.”

“There arc other companies that are already starting to export and
there are certain challenges that they face. Taking all of these into
account, is giving the government decision makers a chance to really
see the problems and the challenges and until then they can incorporate
solutions as they design the halal programme for Brunei.”

Abdalhamid said it is critical for Brunei in general to think
outside the box because “a lot of the low-hanging fruit in the halal
industry is obviously being taken by other countries”. He explained:
Australia can produce beef. Brazil can produce chickens. We’ll never be
able to compete in those ways, we have to be creative with our thinking
in Brunei to find the niche – what’s the value proposition that we’ve
got in Brunei that makes it unique?”

He added Brunei is at an interesting stage” where a lot of the plans
which have been made over the last few years are “basically now at a
point where they can be put into action”.

“The global recession is actually in a sense to our advantage,” he
said, “because people are looking for access to new and untapped
markets and the Muslim consumer market has appeared globally as an
interesting viable target market.”

“This is absolutely the moment to be thinking about how to get into
the halal industry and how to take advantage of it because a lot of the
existing consumer markets are considered to be saturated,” he said.

Courtesy of The Brunei Times