The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) have asked Turkey to take the lead in producing halal food, investing special efforts to boost the US$1 trillion global market.
Turkish Industry and Trade Minister Nihat Ergün paid a visit to Saudi Arabia at the invitation of the OIC last week. In Jeddah, he held important talks with about 300 wealthy Saudi businessmen and the OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, who is also a Turkish national to discuss the importance of the halal food business.
Noting that the international halal food market has expanded to $1 trillion over the years, ?hsano?lu explained that even countries with Muslim minority populations such as China, India and Taiwan are produce halal food for Muslim countries. Turkey, a predominantly Muslim country and a major food producer whose influence among OIC members has visibly increased, particularly over the past few years, should rise up and take the lion’s share of this market.
He advised Turkish producers to comply with halal food specifications in their exports to Muslim countries. Stressing that Muslim countries tend to do on-the-spot inspections of foodstuffs produced for them in predominantly Christian and Buddhist countries, Ihsanoglu said Turkey may soon grab a great share of the market without passing through such a test.
During his meeting with the OIC secretary-general, Minister Ergün said he would meet with food manufacturers in Turkey to discuss the opportunities in that regard and brief them about the situation in the market. Turkey’s exports rebounded after experiencing a downfall in 2009 because of the global financial crisis and reached $114 billion last year. The country aims to bring its export volume to $500 billion by 2023, the centennial of the modern Republic of Turkey. To that end, it has so far focused on decreasing its dependency on foreign supplies in the field of energy and boosting industrial production at large, particularly by developing a national car brand which will then be exported to world markets. However, increasing its food sales to other countries received little attention in that strategy.
Ihsanoglu’s proposal may thus act as a wake-up call for the country to take advantage of its food production in the very lucrative halal food market, which has the potential to expand even further. The OIC also made another offer to Turkey to cooperate among Muslim countries for cotton production. Pointing out that Turkey is the most experienced cotton producer, Ihsanoglu also requested Turkey to share its experience with other cotton-producing Muslim countries. Ergün also discussed with the OIC secretary-general the adoption of the Charter of the Standards and Meteorology Institute for Islamic Countries (SMIIC), which the OIC decided to establish in 2010. The OIC asked Turkey to ratify it as soon as possible and share its experience on this matter with other Muslim countries as well.
Source: Today’s Zaman