Chinese halal market seen as source of rich potential

Thai exporters are being urged to tap into China’s expanding Muslim food market.

“China is one of the world’s most eye-catching halal food markets,
as Muslims there total more than 30 million, or 2.3% of China’s
population,” said Srirat Rastapana, director-general of the Export
Promotion Department.

“Demand for halal food is rapidly growing in Ningxia and Gansu provinces and in Inner Mongolia.”

The world’s Muslim population is about two billion or 29% of the
total. Muslim consumers total 8 million in North America, 18 million in
Europe, and 200 million in Indonesia.

The global halal market was estimated to be worth $547 billion in
2009 and is expected to grow to more than $550 billion in 2010, said
Mrs Srirat.

Thailand is the fifth-largest halal food exporter, controlling a
5.6% market share. In 2008, Thai halal exports were worth 5.19 billion
baht, up 53.3% from 2007.

The Thai government aims to expand halal food exports by at least
10% a year between 2010 and 2014, helped by new strategies to drive the
development of products for Muslim markets.

A panel on halal industry development, chaired by Deputy Prime
Minister Korbsak Sabhavasu, approved strategies to develop the industry
last year. They include meeting world halal standards and conforming to
domestic demand, promoting the competitiveness of both entrepreneurs
and workers in the industry, increasing Thailand’s capability in
certifying food as halal, and expanding markets and upgrading research
and development.

The targeted products are vegetables, fruit, fishery and livestock
products and tourism and health care services. The strategy calls for
the five southern provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat, Satun and
Songkhla to become the production base for halal products.

The department will also focus on health by promoting rice, fruit and organic halal food.

It is also poised to support the opening of halal food outlets and
non-food business such as halal hotels, halal hospitals and halal
logistics services, she said.