Local Muslim Leader Urges Taiwan to Develop Halal Food Industry

TAIPEI, Nov 25 Asia Pulse – A local Muslim leader called on the
government Monday to be more active in developing the halal food
industry and strengthen its global networking, especially with Muslim
states, to establish itself as a prominent player in this multibillion
dollar industry.

has what it takes to play a pivotal role” in the specialized food
industry, but the government “lacks a clear policy direction, ”
Salahuding Ma Chao-yen, the head of the Taipei Grand Mosque, said in an
interview with the Central News Agency.

Ma, who attended the
Global Halal Conference held in Bangkok, Thailand Nov. 20-22, pointed
to many local advantages that could give it an edge in supplying the
equipment and advanced techniques in producing halal food, which
describe foods allowed under Islamic dietary guidelines.

strengths, Ma said, include management technology, agricultural
refinement techniques, and research and development into health foods
and other high value-added products.

Thailand in particular is already attempting to establish itself
as the center of the halal industry in Asia region, Ma said, suggesting
that Taiwan model itself after the Southeast Asian country to establish
a comprehensive strategy and clear market position.

He also urged
the government, especially the Ministry of Economic Affairs, to
facilitate coordination among subsidiary agencies to come up with
long-term plans.

Meanwhile, Ma recommended that the government
use the annual Taipei International Food Show, with its display of
Taiwan’s advanced food processing techniques and facilities, as its
main showcase to attract Muslim visitors, who are the main consumers of
halal food.

He explained that as most Muslim countries tend to be
dominated by small or medium enterprises due to their level of economic
development, Taiwan is a good fit to supply those countries with the
suitable equipment and necessary technology for halal food production.

cooperation and transfer of skills, he said, would help Taiwan not only
forge closer ties with Muslim countries, but also boost Taiwan’s own

Taiwan can also act as a facilitator or coordinator for
the halal food trade among Muslim countries, Ma believed, as the
country is not involved in power struggles within the Muslim community
and has a generally friendly attitude toward Muslims.

The growing
halal market is expected to become one of the most profitable niches in
the food industry, with an estimated trade value of US$200 billion a
year, according to a program from the Bangkok conference.

Ma said the worldwide halal market value reached US$600 billion in 2007, and is expected to attain US$1 trillion by 2010.

are currently 1.6 billion Muslims living in 148 countries around the
globe, making up one-fourth of the world’s population.

Taiwan has approximately 50,000 followers, with an additional 100,000 Indonesian Muslims who are in Taiwan on work contracts.

The government, however, “is
taking a passive attitude in mobilizing Taiwan’s resources, ” Ma
contended, describing the country as still in the early stage of
importing the halal food concept compared to Southeast Asian rivals.

Malaysia and Thailand, he said, have crafted proactive policies to facilitate certification and promote trade in the industry.