Eyeing a big piece of the lucrative Halal market

By Debbie Too of The Brunei Times

moves to diversify Brunei Darussalam’s economy have taken a giant leap,
from the Sungai Liang Industrial Park to the development of Pulau Muara

Another great idea has to do with encouraging the
Brunei food industry with the introduction of the Brunei Halal Brand, a
project to secure a slice of the lucrative global Halal market.

2007, Brunei made known its intentions by establishing a Halal standard
in 2007, hence taking the first step in reaching out to a $996 million
market, as calculated by the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. However
there are many gaps that still need to be filled with a lot more
questions raised about the next step. Firstly, what is the next step?

countries are taking aggressive steps in the race to secure a spot. For
example, Malaysia has already started to position itself to become an
international Halal hub with the support of its government, which has
supported the objectives and taken a number of measures including the
establishment of the Halal Development Corporation.

Singapore, the food industry there has also taken a number of steps
toward becoming a Halal hub, including carrying out an advertising
campaign in the Middle East, while Thailand is out to secure a niche as
a centre of excellence in science and testing in the Halal market.

of the most obvious recommendations was made by Dr Paul Temporal,
Temporal Brand Consulting’s managing director and founder, last year
who said that Brunei first needs an identity to secure themselves in
the global marketplace.

“Brunei has to think about how it’s
going to position itself not only in Southeast Asia and Asia but in the
global marketplace as a whole. So I think that although Brunei has got
some awareness and people have heard of it, people don’t really know
much about it and what it stands for, so we have to look at how we can
position Brunei in a special way so that people are aware of the fact
that it is different and it is better in certain areas and what it
stands for and so on,” he said in an interview last year.

He added that the Brunei Halal Brand
falls into Brunei’s nation branding with recommendations that the Halal
Brand could be of the sub-brands that can help outsiders relay what
Brunei’s overall identity is. But can a small country with less than
half a million people enter the trillion dollar global halal industry?

Abdalhamid Evans, managing director of Imarat Consultants, a consulting
firm specialising in the halal market, said that the market in Brunei is
too small for the world to conform to Brunei’s halal standards.

in Malaysia, they’ve conformed to Malaysia to get their business but
it’s still not that big a market. If you’re talking about the Gulf
Cooperation Council, they have a huge buying power and the standard
that they roll out is going to have a different kind of impact in the
market, because food exporting markets which want to reach that market
will learn to be compliant with the Middle Eastern standards,” he said.

added that this shouldn’t deter Brunei’s plan to have a slice of the
cake. He said that the global halal market is not solely based on
imports and exports of goods but that Brunei could position itself to
be in the niche market of the Halal food market.

“I discussed
with Nestle last year, and I remember asking them what the biggest
challenges are for expanding their Halal production, and they said that
the big challenges was going to find small ingredients like
emulsifiers, colourings and all those little additives and getting
Halal sources for those are quite challenging,” he said.

industry in general is looking for meat substitutes for example, people
are arguing about gelatine and how to source Halal gelatine, but
gelatine can be made from vegetable sources as well, so if you go
there, then the question of whether it’s Halal or not doesn’t really
arise and those kind of opportunities present themselves to Brunei.
Good joint ventures could come out of that,” he added.

But is
Brunei behind in the Halal food race? Evans said, “On one hand you can
say that Brunei is a bit slow, but on the other hand, it’s not, and
because I’ve worked with other countries on this, and they’re just as
slow. To be honest, when I’ve looked at the progress being made in
other countries, Brunei isn’t any slower actually.”


Imarat Consultants Sdn Bhd are Event Manager for the

4th International Halal Market Conference 2009 (IHMC 2009) ‘Halal – An Engine of Growth and Opportunity’, being held 1-2 August 2009, at the International Convention Centre, Brunei Darussalam.