Production of Halal items a boost to Bosnia

By Ana Lovakovi? for Southeast European Times in Sarajevo

Bosnia and Herzegovina is among the region's leading sources of halal-certified products. [AFP]
Bosnia and Herzegovina is among the region’s leading sources of halal-certified products. [AFP]
With 47 certified companies, Bosnia and Herzegovina is among the most important sources of halal products in the region.

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) has become a regional leader in the production of halal-certified products, and continued development of the sector is an important part of the country’s economy.

In 2006, BiH opened the Agency for Halal Quality Certification to oversee production of items that are prepared in accordance with Islamic law. There are 47 certified companies operating in BiH, and the agency said interest in halal certification is high, especially for food and pharmaceutical products.

Valdet Peštali, head of the department of education in the Agency for Halal Quality Certification, told SETimes that the number of consumers using halal products far exceeds the number of Muslims.

“The potential of 20 million consumers in the Southeast Europe halal market is significant, taking into account that one-third of consumers of halal products are Muslims and two-thirds are non-Muslims,” Peštali said. Halal certification has become synonymous with healthy, safe products and the foods are not contrary to the provisions of other religions, he said.

BiH companies are producing more than 2,000 types of halal products, which are exported all over the world.

“We made a huge step in the Middle East market,” Peštali said. “Also, for us are very interesting markets of Malaysia, Iraq, Pakistan, Egypt, the former Soviet republics, Libya and South Africa.”

Peštali said it is not possible to know the total income that companies in BiH make from halal products, but according to agency data, the global halal foods market is increasing annually and is valued at 472 billion euros, while the estimated value for the EU market is 51 billion euros.

Federal Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry Jerko Ivankovic Lijanovi told SETimes that BiH can benefit locally from the halal market.

“Such production can help to sow many unused lands, and also employ a huge number of people,” Lijanovi? said.

Halal tourism in the region is still in development. Steps have been taken in BiH, Croatia and Slovenia, where 15 hotels, restaurants and travel agencies are certified.

In 2011, the Muslim world spent 94 billion euros in the halal sector, Fazal Bahardeen, director of Crescent Rating, the world’s leader for rating halal-friendly restaurants and hotels, said.

In Croatia, there are 35 certified companies, almost 2,000 halal products and a centre for certification. Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro have offices working under supervision of the Bosnian Agency for Halal Quality Certification in Tuzla. The Bosnian agency certified 110 companies in region.

“Because 57,000 Muslims in Croatia [is not] a big market, all companies that make up the backbone of the Croatian food industry have their plants in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Aziz Hasanovic, director of the Croatian Centre for Halal Quality Certification, told SETimes.

In Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia, interest in halal certification is growing.

“By introducing halal certification, we have created the conditions for an increase in sales in Muslim countries, which cover a quarter of the globe. Companies from Qatar are looking to buy a larger quantity of meat from Macedonia,” said Zlatko Dimitrevski, director of Vigo 48 in Bitola.