Opinion: Innovation in the Halal industry

By Izham Shah Datuk Arif Shah -The Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, March 2 — Innovation is the key to the sustainable growth of businesses. Businesses that fail to innovate are more likely to fail or hit the wall or even worse, hit the bottom.

Innovation is needed to be competitive in the ever challenging and fast-growing halal industry.

The halal industry is one of the most competitive and fast moving industries. Many countries are now diverting their focus to the halal industry; many companies and businesses are investing in halal-related products, innovating and creating solutions for Muslim communities across the world and leveraging on their own governments’ halal initiatives to remain relevant in this current economic situation.

This has contributed to the booming of the industry within a period of 10 years. Companies and businesses are seen to embark on this unique journey of innovating and not just relying on halal labels or logos as a marketing approach.

Any business can have their products be certified as halal, provided that they comply with the halal regulations. However, the halal label or logo will never be enough to sustain the business and to offer lucrative returns for the businesses, the companies and businesses have been forced to innovate, innovate and innovate.

Non-Muslim-majority countries are now starting to become aware of the need to innovate and cater to this particular industry. Countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany and Spain have had their teams of experts work on many issues in terms of halal and innovating the halal industry.

Acceptance towards halal products such as halal meats or Shariah banking has been increasing year by year.

The world is also witnessing the rise of China as an economic juggernaut, China along with its neighbours Japan and Korea is tapping into the third financial force — the halal industry.

The global halal economic powerhouse isn’t geographically specific, although Malaysia and Indonesia are leading in the South-east Asian region, while the UAE is leading the gulf and Middle Eastern countries while Saudi Arabia remains among the key players of the industry, mainly as buyers of halal products or technologies.

Innovation in this highly attractive industry is not limited to just the food and beverages market, but it expands further into the financial market, agriculture, education, consumer goods, cosmetics and the list is never exhaustive.

Examples of halal innovations include the use of technology for slaughterhouses to ease the slaughtering process and to address the issues of animal cruelty raised by certain animal rights groups across the world.

The use of technology has improved the speed of the slaughtering process, enabling the operator to work in a much safer environment with structured protocols and most importantly, is hygienic. This innovation makes it more “reliable” and applies to the toyyiban concept.

Another unique example of halal innovation is the creation of more reliable and effective yet clean soil amendments or fertilisers. Although traditional fertilisers are not categorised as an item that can be halal certified in the Halal Malaysia certification, there are alternative methods of using effective micro-organisms (EM) for soil amendments as well as to break down natural wastes such as fruit peels, making it useful and usable as fertilisers for plants and the agribusiness.

The conventional method of using cow dung or chicken droppings as fertilisers has long been debated as these sources contain harmful micro-organisms which may affect the health of the plants themselves.

In general, halal innovations have become much more encompassing and extend to other “big markets” such as biotechnology, logistics, supply chain management, tourism and many others.

Detection of non-halal materials is vastly improved and simplified, using biotechnological methods such as the polymerase-chain-reaction (PCR) for the detection of any porcine (pork-derived) DNA.

Detection can be done in less than a day and with the highly sensitive and specific method, the reliability of the results will not be questioned.fb_logo_platcomventures

PlaTCOM Ventures is supporting the development and commercialisation of innovation in many industries, including the halal industry.

Since 2015, PlaTCOM Ventures has been organising the Halal Hi-Tech Challenge (HHTC) with the focus of looking for the gems of the halal industry.

This year, PlaTCOM Ventures will be organising the Islamic Innovation Challenge (I2C) where the scope for HHTC will be widened to cover the Islamic related innovations.

Matching grants and end-to-end facilitations will be provided to the winners of this challenge, enabling the winners to remove gaps and barriers in commercialising their Islamic innovations into the market.

About PlaTCOM Ventures

PlaTCOM Ventures Sdn Bhd is the national technology commercialisation platform of Malaysia and is a wholly-owned subsidiary company of Agensi Inovasi Malaysia formed in collaboration with SME Corporation Malaysia (SMECorp) under one of its six High Impact Programmes (HIPs) in SME Master Plan 2012-2020.

Our mission is to turn the creative ideas of our inventors and entrepreneurs into successful products and services that change the world.

With our High Impact Programme 2 (HIP2) end-to-end facilitation programme, we aim to assist and help SMEs further develop and enhance innovations across various industries to be ready for commercialisation.

* Dr Izham Shah Datuk Arif Shah is a Commercialisation Specialist and Head of Halal Consultancy Services of PlaTCOM Ventures Sdn Bhd.