Japan: Halal Dumplings

A Japanese company has innovated to sell its food products to the huge market of Muslim customers overseas, but its diet law forbids them consuming some of the food and drink normally made in Japan. Pork for example is forbidden, so is alcohol.

But the Japanese company prepares food certified as Halal. It means using Muslim Halal Standards.

NHK World’s Saori Yamamato has the rest of the story.

Tayoshimura company dries and sells fish. Eighty people are employed here. A declining catch and a shrinking domestic market have been encouraging the company to start new markets.

“It’s a market left untouched and unknown to us. That’s why it’s worth entering”

Chinese style dumplings, known as gyoza in Japan, have become one of the focuses for the company. Gyoza usually contains pork. The company has developed pork-free-gyoza.

Ground mackerel fish meat is used instead, Japanese tea leaves are kneeded into the skin to add flavor.

“There used to be no wall here, there used to be a passage”

A wall has been built to segregate the fish meat dumpling production space from the rest of the company. The company’s efforts are moving forward.  Last October its pork-free dumplings were certified as Halal.

The president of the company, Shikasai Yoshiura was in Singapore to showcase and to sell his farm’s dumplings at Halal 2012, a trade fair for Halal products from all over the world.

“I like it”

“Where can we find this? I want to buy”

“Only here!”

After the second day the gyoza sold out. After returning home, Yoshimura discussed with his staff ways to make packaging for the dumplings more appealing. He showed samplings of packages from the Halal market.

“You can tell right away what’s inside. The photo on the package shows the product”

In the end the company decided to call the product: “Japanese Halal Food” with a big photo of the gyoza on the package.

“We’ll be able to make inroads into the Islamic Market through mutual exchanges, if we respect what the Halal certificate stands for. And strictly control our production process.

NHK World’s Saori Yamamoto is in our studio in Saga to tell us more.

“Saori, is it unusual for Japanese companies to obtain Halal Certification for their products to sell them I the Islamic Market?”

Since Dubai’s economic boom several years ago, major Japanese food companies have been taking steps to gain Halal Certification for their products. But applicants must submit detailed information to the certifying agencies and get their product processing facilities inspected.

Small companies with few experiences in over seas business have not been very successful.

“I see. With these difficulties, why is Yoshimura so determined to make inroads into the Islamic Market?”

“The market is appealing. There are more than 1.5 billion Muslims around the world, forming a powerful market base.

Previously the culture barrier had been to difficult to over come for small Japanese companies. Now, a small local farm is taking its first step into the Halal market.

“Thank you very much there, Saori. That was NHK World’s Saori Yamamoto”