Move With Trends Or Risk Being Left Behind, SMEs Told

Move With Trends Or Risk Being
Left Behind, SMEs Told

By Wani Abdul Gapar

– Brunei must learn to catch up with trends in the global
food industry or risk being left out of the market, according to a
local entrepreneur.

Local businesses need to be
forward-thinking and participate in more international events to
gain exposure and knowledge about the industry. “Local SMES must be
exposed to foreign trade regulations. If we don’t go out, we (won’t)
know what is needed to export our products,” said Mazrina Yussof of
Zainab Utama Enterprise.

Highlighting the fact that “not a
lot of SMES know about the certification needed for export”, Mazrina
said that active participation in international events is also an
effective way of promoting local companies in addition to keeping
abreast of current trends in the food industry.

“SMES should know this. In the food
industry, if companies want to export, they have to know about
foreign food regulations, standards and hygiene (concerns),” she
said yesterday.

She recognised though that the
government has been, supportive in the endeavour to promote Brunei
in the global halal market.

However, despite the government’s
efforts “to buck things up”, Mazrina said that the nation lags in
the global food market. One of the main challenges is creating
awareness among Bruneian SMES of the importance of establishing
standards of certification.

Referring to local SMES
specialising in the halal food sector, she said, “You need to keep
updating yourself and you really have to go outside for exposure.”
Zainab Utama Enterprise is one of the Bruneian companies
participating in the first Halal World Expo 2007 in Abu Dhabi. Other
companies participating in the three-day expo are Mohammad Mustaqim
Enterprises, Montex Garments, SPHI Food Industries Sdn Bhd, McCrumby
Sdn Bhd. With more than 4.7 million consumers in the halal market,
this expo can potentially open up the export network of such
companies, according to a press release.

added that Zainab Utama is also looking to widen its market base.
“We always have local customers and though they’re supportive, it’s
still not enough. We want to expand more by selling more to the
foreign market,” she said.

Representatives of the Ministry of
Industry and Primary Resources are also in Abu Dhabi to promote the
Brunei Halal Brand Project as well as the International Halal Expo
2008, Agro Technology Park and other investment opportunities in the