Malaysia: Stumbling block to Halal MART growth

By Amir Hisyam Rasid – The New Straits Times

THE optimism about halal market looks hard to justify despite the exponential growth of halal products and overwhelming global demand, says Halal Industry Development Corp (HDC) chief executive officer Datuk Seri Jamil Bidin.

He said this was also despite the expected increase of five to six per cent in the halal exports this year as well as enormous initiatives provided by the government.

The finger of blame should be pointed at one that moves the market — the local companies — as some of them were still not up to scratch, said Jamil in an interview recently.

He argued that these companies had the single mindset that halal certification was the only way to enable them to hitch a ride on the fast-growing market in the Asean region, if not around the world.

“It is not enough to have halal certification. Companies failing to respond efficiently to a customer’s needs will rapidly get steered away by consumers from such poor service,” said Jamil.

He also suggested that some local players were not responding accordingly to the rapid changes in technology.

Like any other markets, Jamil said technology has drastically changed the future of the halal market, and HDC had put several plans on the table to prepare for the change.

Digital Free Trade Zone was launched in March and in order to get the halal sector on board, discussions over framework that would drive Malaysia beyond its Global Halal Hub status in 2020 had started.

“If we want double-digit growth, I believe the only sector that can bring us towards that direction is the digital sector,” said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak early this year.

Jamil said Malaysia Halal Council, consisting of HDC, Malaysian Islamic Development Department and Department of Standards Malaysia, would launch the framework by year-end as it was committed to empowering local halal companies.

He revealed that the framework would touch on digitilisation and internalisation, among other things, which would empower local companies to gain competitive advantage globally.

“It is not the same as before. Even in the halal market, change  has reached to a whole new level,” Jamil  concluded.