Philippines: Gov’t seeks Brunei help to develop halal industry

ALABEL, Sarangani (MindaNews/28 July)  — The national government is seeking the help of Brunei in to penetrate the lucrative halal global market which is currently valued at  $3 trillion, a Cabinet official said.

Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo said the Export Development Council (EDC) recently discussed with President Benigno C. Aquino III ways to develop the nation’s halal industry.

Halal, the opposite of haram, refers to food or non-food products permissible under the Islamic faith, but which could also be consumed by non-Muslims.

“The President is supportive of growing the production of halal in the country,” he told reporters on Wednesday after addressing participants to the SOCCSKSARGEN SME Caravan.

One of the key issues that the EDC identified to develop the country’s halal industry is the need for an international certification body that would support the growth of the local halal industry.

“[What] we are doing is talk with Brunei to see if they can help with our halal certification [needs],” he said.

Locally, however, there is already an existing government-owned halal laboratory that could address the certification need of the industry.

Zenaida P. Laidan, Department of Science and Technology director for Southwestern Mindanao, said the agency operates a halal laboratory in Cotabato City, with another bigger facility under construction in Koronadal City.

The P24 million state-of-the-art existing halal laboratory facility of the DOST has a range of services spanning  the entire supply chain of halal food and selected non-food products, a project briefer said.

“It is the only existing halal laboratory in the country devoted to serving local and international clients,” Laidan said.

The facility is capable of profiling fatty acids of animals and plants; DNA analysis of foods and other processed products; gelatin content analysis of milk and other dairy products; testing of genetically modified organism; alcohol content analysis of beverages and other related products; qualitative detection of haram in meat products; and detection of lard in bakery products and edible oils, among others

The laboratory was established in line with the Philippine Science and Technology Program for the Development of the Halal Industry.

The P75-million facility being built in Koronadal City, the capital of South Cotabato, will be known as the Philippine National Halal Laboratory.

Laidan said that a halal laboratory is very important especially for a non-Muslim country like the Philippines, as it will increase the integrity of locally-made halal products especially those bound for markets in Muslim countries

“We cannot assure that a particular product is halal using only our naked eyes or senses.  Only through testing and analyses in our laboratory can we guarantee that products are really halal,” she said.

Next month, the DOST-12 is set to launch its halal certification system and unveil a halal seal of quality as part of efforts to establish a credible industry in the country, Laidan said. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)