Southeast Asia to benefit from halal market

Traditional methods scaled up to cater to growing global demand for halal produce.

Muslim market, which is thought to comprise 1.4 billion to 1.6 billion
consumers worldwide, is characterised by rising income levels, an
expanding middle class and is increasingly seen as an investment hot
spot. This is a grouping defined by ideology, not geography.

market may be dominated by the oil-rich Middle East, but there are
growing numbers of Muslims in Europe, North America and Asia, the
latter increasingly bolstered by improving economies and greater
overall spending power. For the poultry industry, this means that there
is growing demand for halal products.

like ISO, HACCP and GMP, a halal “endorsement” by a credible religious
body assures consumers that a food product complies with Islamic

Working together

225 million Muslims, or close to a fifth of the world’s Muslim
population, lives in the 10 states that comprise Southeast Asia, and
local poultry producers are keeping a keen eye on this rising market.

the next 12 months, an ambitious poultry project in the BIMP-EAGA
sub-region, which consists of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the
Philippines, will align their resources together to boost poultry
production and take advantage of the growing halal export market.

approved by individual countries’ governments, the grouping brings
together Indonesia, for its corn feed supplies; the Philippines, with
its huge poultry companies; Brunei, for its reputation and experience
in halal development; and Malaysia, for its strength in halal
infrastructure and investments.

Malaysia investment

cooperation aside, individual countries are also launching their own
halal poultry initiatives. With four halal industry parks and strong
government support, Malaysia is looking to ship its halal poultry
products to the Gulf states and Europe, India, China and Russia.

executive officer of Malaysia’s Halal Development Corporation, Jamil
Bidin, says, “We expect demand from these countries to grow even
further and we are keen to get the local halal industry to capitalise
on untapped demand for halal products around the world.”

Hybro and Cobb are the main broiler breeds used in Malaysia, accounting
for almost 90% of total parent stock. Arbor Acres and Hubbard are also
active in the country.

local farms supply about 65% of all grandparent stock, with the rest
imported mainly from Europe and North America. For layer hens, popular
breeds are Hisex and Lohmann, which together accounted for more than
70% of the market last year.

Investment focus

Malaysia’s strong halal credentials and market potential, July saw
Taiwanese investment totalling RM1.4 billion (US$401 million) agreed
for the development of a 2,500ha organic chicken and egg production
site in Tanjung Manis, the country’s newest halal park in Sarawak.

to some 16 million Muslims, or 60% of the total population, all poultry
produced in Malaysia is halal. The country is aiming to position itself
as a global centre for the production and export of halal products by

is already self-sufficient in poultry products and, at 33 kilogram per
capita, has one of the highest poultry consumption levels in the world.
It exports its surplus broiler meat to Singapore, the UAE, Brunei,
Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Japan. However, the growth potential of these
markets appears to be limited and so there is a need to find new

Jamil says, “Interest in halal food has also risen among non-Muslims
with greater awareness of what the halal label offers not only from a
religious point of view, but also as healthy and wholesome foods.”

Irfan Sungkar, of consulting firm Kasehdia, adds that non-Muslim Dutch
consumers have also shown an interest in halal food, which they
perceive to be safe and wholesome.

Model farm

Philippines is also sharpening its focus on halal and investing heavily
to develop a landmark hub in the southern Muslim Mindanao region. In
August, the country’s Agriculture Department announced a US$18 million
plan for a model halal poultry farm, with research and testing labs,
slaughterhouses and production facilities.

are underway to attract investors to the project that should also be
beneficial to local feed producers, veterinary services and logistics
concerns. The Philippines has remained free from avian influenza,
giving local production an advantage in export markets.

to getting the project off the ground was approval of a halal
certification standard by Mindanao’s religious leaders. Recognised
standards are paramount in achieving exports and Mindanao is seeking
out export opportunities in Iran and is in dialogue with investors from
Kuwait and Brunei. The BIMP-EAGA venture will be further boosted by
Mindanao aligning its halal certification with that of the other
project stakeholders, Malaysia and Brunei.

biggest poultry exporter, Thailand, is making headway in the halal
chicken export market. Its Halal Food Science Centre, at Chulalongkorn
University, is a first and, like the Philippines, Thailand is planning
a hub for halal food production.

Winai Dahlan, director of the Halal Food Centre says, “In many
countries, and especially for niche products, this certification is a
must and lends a value to the product.”

Thai halal brand is recognised across the Middle East, which bought
over 10,000 metric tons of Thai cooked poultry products in 2007, valued
at US$23.5 million. To date, over 60 chicken slaughterhouses and
processing factories in the country are halal- and export-approved.

well managed, poultry, with its freedom from religious taboos,
efficient feed conversion and perception as healthier than red meat, is
increasingly attractive to the world’s Muslim population. Producers in
Southeast Asia have recognised this, and are on their way to making the
most of a niche, but global, market.