Current efforts to promote local products do not seem to be aggressive enough, he said.
“Although efforts (to market halal products) had begun from the early 1980s, they are still not significant enough for markets like the United Kingdom (UK) and Europe.
“Hence, the efforts must be done in tandem with those carried out by Matrade. We also have (activities by) Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) via the Gate to Global programme and Halal Development Corporation Bhd (HDC),” Ahmad Zahid told reporters after visiting the Malaysian-owned Chuanglee cash and carry store in London.
Ahmad Zahid, who is on a four-day working visit to London, is scheduled to officiate the World Halal Business Conference (WHBC) organised by HDC on Oct 27-28 here and he will deliver the keynote address on the first day of the conference.
Ahmad Zahid said action must be taken from now to tap the global halal market’s potential.
According to him, government agencies and the private sector can no longer act in silos but should instead work together to promote products from the country.
“The potential is very big due to efforts done by the government and private sector as well as by the existing marketing network, especially Malaysians who are entrepreneurs at the international level, including in Europe.
“The government must invest in terms of marketing, and Malaysian financial institutions must be proactive as well in assisting the entrepreneurs,” he said.
Ahmad Zahid also urged manufacturers to take heed of the standards and regulations set by importing countries to ensure their products get favourable reception.
He also praised the efforts made by Chuanglee to bring in Malaysian products for distribution in the UK.
He noted that Chuanglee also holds seminars for Malaysian businesses to attract higher participation among micro, small and medium enterprises in marketing their products there.
The cash and carry group headed by chief executive officer Jimmy Chua has been in operation there since the 1980s, mainly trading Asian products, including halal items.
When met by reporters, Chua commented that the group has no problem assisting Malaysian entrepreneurs in bringing their products into the UK market.
However, he said, support from various parties is still needed in promoting Malaysian products in that market.
He shared that currently products from Malaysia account for only about 15% of the products imported by the group, compared with over 50% from Thailand, while the balance are from Vietnam and China.
“We have 15,000 stock keeping units (SKUs) at our outlets. Our imports from Malaysia are worth around RM5 million a year. We can bring anything from Malaysia but without the right promotion, the product would just stay on the shelves,” he said.
He said the group is also planning for expansion by opening at least five more cash and carry outlets in the UK as well as more supermarkets.
“With better branding of Malaysian products, we believe their sales could increase tenfold,” he added.