Jury still out on Brunei’s Halal Brand

At the opening of the third Brunei Halal Products Expo 2008, a number of exhibitors taking part said that
having the Brunei Premium Halal label is certainly an added value for customers, as the strict, stringent and
high level of quality hygienic procedures for the acquisition of the Brunei Premium Halal Brand ensures both
the particular product’s halalness and cleanliness in the highest possible order.

Still in its debut stage, around 90 products from nine companies have been granted permits to use the
Brunei Premium Halal Brand, according to the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources.

However, the question whether Brunei’s Halal Brand is sellable, especially against foreign products, is too
early to tell particularly when the local certification has to compete with other halal labels already out in the
market today.

But some argue that this is not simply a question of competition with other halal labels, as it also represents
further assurances to customers. But there are some quarters that say that the added costs of acquiring
such a label in addition to the already existing labels might need further time for consideration, as some have
companies implied.

“It might be Halal, but how Halal is it?” seems to be the essence of the introduction of the Brunei Premium
Halal Brand. If there exists a barometer to measure one’s product in terms of halalness, then it could be
much easier to promote the use of it, some argue.

The only gauge to indicate the strength of Brunei’s Premium Halal Brand lies in its reputation of strict
adherence to the Islamic Halal regulation.

Recently, Brunei revealed its ambition to establish a Halal Product Academy, which will be the first of its kind
facilitating Syariah scholars and specialists in Halal science and research, which is hoped to further enhance
the Sultanate’s standing in the issuance of Halal certification.

It costs to acquire such a label, but some taking part in the Halal expo explained that it is an insignificant
figure compared to the potential added value gained from the successful result of the process.

One of the exhibitors selling foreign products in Brunei said that the cost could easily run up to more than
$10,000 initially.

However, some like Tan Too Yeo from BMC Food Industries Sdn Bhd said the cost of acquiring the premium
Halal label is relatively negligible and that the issue of cost should not arise, as being awarded to use the
Brunei Premium Halal label is, in itself, a valuable certification.

This year’s IHP expo saw the largest number of participation with more booths, events and better exhibits
featuring some 300-exhibition booths.

The demand for Halal products has grown beyond food and now includes non-food products as well as
Islamic finance, tourism and other services requiring Syariah compliance.

This year’s theme of the International Halal Market Conference is “The Emergence of the Halal market economy”, and covers a spectrum of topics consisting of
Halal market analysis, Halal manufacturing and distribution challenges, Halal brand development, Halal park
clusters, Halal online applications and Halal tourism and hospitality.