RIYADH: A delegation of Saudi Food & Drug Authority (SFDA) left for Pakistan Saturday to hold talks with major players in Pakistani food sector and to register them to ensure exports of a range of food products including meat from that Asian country to Saudi Arabia. The Saudi delegation’s plan is also to visit the meat exporting companies’ facilities in different Pakistani cities with an aim to award licenses to them and above all to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the state-owned Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP).
Muhammad Naeem Khan, Pakistani ambassador, said here Sunday that a team of six prominent veterinary doctors are there in the Saudi delegation led by a Saudi expert Dr. Saleh Abdullah Al-Hamid. Khan said that Pakistan has great potential in food sector, especially in halal food industry. Pakistan, he said, is geared up to play a major role in the progressively growing halal food market, whose cumulative global value exceeds $640 billion annually.
“With the advent of more and more new players and with robust support from the government, Pakistan is set to become one of the largest players in the meat trade, at least within the Middle East and Southeast Asia,” said Ambassador Khan, adding that the Saudi delegation will visit 17 food companies and slaughter houses across Pakistan for an assessment and to register them with the Saudi government agencies, he added.
The plan is to boost exports of a range of food commodities from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia, mainly meat, poultry and fish products, he added. He pointed out that the delegation will stay in Pakistan until mid-March. The delegation will also visit some Pakistani companies and major commercial establishments during their stay in that country. “The Saudi side will sign a long-term MoU with TDAP to establish a strategic partnership with Pakistan in the food sector,” said Ambassador Khan.
He pointed out that the Saudi team will visit major Pakistani cities including Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi to see the overall condition of animal vaccination and food system, health certification, traceability system for animals, food products and surveillance and control against animal diseases like influenza, H1N1 etc. The Saudi delegation visit will eventually allow companies like K & Ns and Seasons Foods as well as major Pakistani food giants to sell their products in the Saudi market, he noted.
He pointed out that Pakistan had been willing to export a range of food materials including meat and biscuits to the Kingdom. “Due to the visit of the Saudi delegation and new developments on commercial front, it is expected that the export of food products from Pakistan will exceed $50 million annually soon,” said Khan, while referring to the participation of Pakistan in the recently concluded halal food exhibition in Riyadh.
The envoy said that Pakistan can be the central of halal food industry for the Gulf states and the rest of the world. “Possible registration of 11 new companies and six old companies with Saudi regulatory bodies will prove that Pakistan is going to be the global leader in halal food in near future,” said Khan. The SFDA is an independent Saudi government-owned body established with the objective is to regulate, oversee, and control food, drug, medical devices, as well as to set mandatory standard specifications.