Russia: Steady rise in demand for Russian halal products

By NAIYL LATYPOV – New Straits Times

The Russian Federation is a multi-confessional state, and almost 20 million of 147 million Russian citizens of various nationalities practise Islam.

They reside throughout the whole country, and are the majority of the population of a number of Russian regions, such as Ingushetia, Chechnya, Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia, Bashkortostan and Tatarstan.

These days, Russian Muslims — like many fellow believers around the world — observe Ramadan, and at the end of this holy month of fasting and prayers, will celebrate Uraza Bayram, known here in Malaysia and many other Muslim countries as Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

Islamic culture plays a prominent role in the life of Russia. Almost all Russians know the meaning of the Quran, mosque, imam, haj, and, of course, halal products. There are many stores, markets and restaurants selling halal products that are popular among Russian Muslims and non-Muslims as well.

Given this great demand, many Russian companies produce millions of tonnes of halal-compliant poultry, beef, lamb, eggs, milk and dairy products as well as confectionery every year. Foreign followers of Islam feel comfortable when travelling to Russia because of its developed network of halal-friendly hotels, prayer rooms and wide range of food, beverages and other commodities suitable for them.

Recently, exports of Russian halal products have been continuously increasing, mostly to Saudi Arabia (worth US$79 million last year) and other countries in the Middle East, the Persian Gulf and North Africa.

Russian halal certification centres have been expanding their activities, cooperating extensively with similar centres abroad.

In 2018, the memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the field of general and halal accreditation was signed between the Federal Service for Accreditation of the Russian Federation and the well-known GCC Accreditation Centre of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Annually, thousands of traders from many foreign countries participate in the international Moscow Halal Expo and visit the Halal Eurasia exposition at the Prodexpo in Moscow, a major international show of food and drinks in Russia and Eastern Europe.

Nowadays, Russian halal manufacturers intend to enter the Southeast Asia market, especially the Malaysian market, and have already entered into negotiations with local partners. Promotion of such cooperation is on the agenda of the intergovernmental Joint Russia-Malaysia Commission.

Talks with the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia on recognition of certificates issued by the Russian halal certification centres are also underway. I sincerely hope that it should take not a long time for them to be finalised, and our Malaysian friends will be able to taste high-quality, organic, and delicious halal products from Russia very soon.