Opinion: Bangladesh’s untapped potential of exporting halal meat

The Financial Express

The potential of exporting halal meat from the Bangladesh is yet to be tapped — despite its obvious mbangladprospect – not only to Muslim countries but also elsewhere. Considering the hygiene of cattle slaughter, the market of halal meat is growing fast in most Western countries, not necessarily to cater for Muslim consumers only. In a situation like this, it was expected that such meat would gradually figure as an item in Bangladesh’s export basket. This, unfortunately, has not happened, and signs too do not suggest that things are in order to utilise the opportunity. This has been found to be mainly due to deficient compliance in respect of certain certification requirements.

A FE news item published the other day says that Bangladesh stands to lose a sizeable market share of halal meat in Saudi Arabia — one of the major markets of the product, as it is yet to comply with the conditions set earlier for export. So, it is not at all unusual that exporters are to fulfil those requirements as the preconditions. The Saudi government was reportedly willing to procure raw and processed meat from Bangladesh, subject to compliance with certification on the maintenance of standard and hygiene of meat by the designated agency of its government. The designated agency, the Department of Livestock, is still way behind fulfilling the requirement.

The Saudi example is a case in point; but it does not tell all about the global halal meat market. The global industry value of halal food is estimated to be around US$ 1.2 trillion annually, accounting for 16.6 per cent of the food and beverage market, with an annual growth of 6.9 per cent. Growth regions, beside the Middle Eastern and Gulf countries, include Indonesia and Turkey. The European Union (EU) market for halal food, predominantly including meat, has an estimated annual growth of around 15 per cent and is worth an estimated US$35 billion. Halal ready foods are a growing consumer market for the Muslims and non-Muslims alike in Britain and America and are offered by an increasing number of retailers. In such a situation, export from Bangladesh is, sadly, a peanut. Presently, there is reportedly a single company, a well equipped one though, that exports to some select Middle Eastern markets.

The difficulties impeding export of halal meat from Bangladesh are, for most part, related to cattle rearing in disease-free locations and the processes involved in the pre- and post-slaughter stages. Certification is required to testify compliance with the set process. It is here that the onus is entirely on the government to put the facilities in place. Understandably, once the government is able to provide required certification, which may be country-specific, it is likely that meat export from Bangladesh would become a highly attractive enterprise. The country, home to one of the world’s largest livestock population, has the potential to turn this sector into a vibrant and self-sustaining one.