‘Halal’ Food For Cats?
Halim and Vita Cat. Pic by FarhanBy Izham Shuhaimi Ahmad
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 12 (Bernama) — Halal food for your cat? Why
bother in the first place when your feline does not discriminate what
But not for Halim Baba, 42, of Alor Star, Kedah.
As the sole local entrepreneur in the production of halal cat food
in Malaysia, for Halim it is more than cat food to begin with.
“Yes, cats are animals but animals have rights too. If they are
house cats, they must not only be taken care properly but also be fed
with nourishing food.”
Halim, a mechanical engineer, started work with Sony Mechantronics
in Seberang Prai, Penang in 1998. A year later he was sent to Shizuoka,
Japan, to study boiler engineering for two years.
Upon returning home, Halim was instructed by his employer to
develop a processing machine together with the integrated systems for
the production of fish food pellets in Semarang, Indonesia. Halim spent
three years to complete the undertaking.
However, the turning point for Halim is the inspiration from
former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in 2004. Dr Mahathir
suggested that he should ‘do things different’ instead of ‘do different
He was motivated by Dr Mahathir’s words and soon an idea began to
develop. Next, Halim visited Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to
do research on animal food and study about cats.
After learning a little but valuable knowledge, Halim brought back his new found recipe for cat food.
In explaining the concept of ‘halal food’ for cat, Halim noted
that it starts from the source, process, facility system, delivery,
storage, and all of these had to adhere to the international and
Islamic standards and practices in the context of cleanliness.
MISSION AS A MUSLIM
Halim decided to set up Vita Cat Sdn Bhd, a small and medium
enterprise (SME), in April 2008. He then leased a shop lot at Mergong,
Kedah, and started production in October 2008.
He spent RM160,000 on machinery and with a capacity to produce one metric tonne of cat food per day.
“By early next year, God Willing, Vita Cat will be fully
automated. Eight metric tonnes can be produced at a permanent lot at
Simpang Empat, Alor Star,” he said.
To increase production volume, Halim has secured a reliable fresh
fish supplier from Padang in Indonesia. At the moment his daily supply
of fresh tuna comes from Batu Maung, Penang.
The production process at the facility covering an area of 100
feet by 120 feet is expected to pick up momentum early next year.
Currently he employs six workers.
By increasing the capacity to cater for the local market, Halim
believes he could help in reducing the foreign exchange outflow.
At the same time, he wants to promote the Made-in-Malaysia products of quality.
Halim has also unveiled plans to produce made-to-order dog food
based on ingredients like chicken and beef of ‘halal’ origin. This is
because his production facility can be switched easily to produce dog
food when there are orders for them.
“Another venture is the fish food pellets that does not easily
dissolve in water. This pellets developed by my company helps to keep
pond water clean much longer,” he said, adding that such variety
offered by his company would help facilitate business growth.
Asked about his business philosophy, Halim replied that he
subscribes to a simple approach – try to stand out on the niche market
and do not follow others blindly.
Halim believes that researching, relearning and acquiring more knowledge helped him to get where he is today.
Halim said he has developed a ‘reverse cycle marketing strategy’ to capture a segment of the market for his cat food.
‘Reverse cycle’ means that first he identifies the segment of cat
food market before he commits into the food production. He also checks
the marketing strategy, including the presentation on food shelves at
With relevant data, he would be able to determine production
output and then set the price of cat food product between 20 and 30 per
cent lower than the rivals’ pricing.