Taiwan taps the huge market for halal food – Feature

on :
2009-06-26 | Author :

News Category : Business

Taipei – Taiwan is encouraging its food exporters to tap the Muslim
world’s huge market for halal food, but the response has been lukewarm
so far as companies do not yet see a profit in producing food that
complies with Islamic law.

At the 2009 Taipei International Food Show,
held from Tuesday until Friday, Taiwan for the first time opened a Halal
Pavilion with some 40 companies setting up booths. The
halal foods they showcased were few – rice, biscuits, soya sauce,
vinegar, picked vegetables, chocolate paste and an ice desert called
“Snow Ice.”Many Taiwanese queued up for a free cup of Snow Ice, but few foreign buyers placed orders for the halal products. “Some
South-East Asian buyers stopped by and talked with us, but they did not
place orders,” Hsu Chih-ho, manager of the ASI channel Service Co Ltd,
which makes fruit vinegar, said. At the booth across the aisle, Fufann Enterprise drew a small crowd tasting its chocolate-covered biscuits. “We
have just received the halal certificate, but haven’t begun exporting
to Muslim countries yet. We are here to find buyers,” a company
representative said. Their products include chocolate paste,
sesame paste, coconut paste, creamy paste and garlic paste which can be
put on toast or bread. But the Charmy Food Co Ltd that sells
Snow Ice is optimistic about the export market for its halal Snow Ice –
a bowl of shaved ice topped with fruits and nuts. “We plan to
open franchises in India and Jordan in the coming year, and are looking
to move into other Muslim countries,” Charmy manager Hsu Shih-ho said. Some Taiwan companies, though not producing halal food in Taiwan, have opened factories abroad to produce halal food there. The
Uni-President Enterprises Corp, Taiwan’s largest food conglomerate, has
opened factories in several South-East Asian countries, and its plants
in Vietnam and Indonesia have obtained the halal certificate, company
spokeswoman Wu Hsu-hui said. Taiwan is one of the world’s
top-20 exporting countries and has a good reputation for its food
products – meat, fruits, vegetables and drinks. In 2008,
Taiwan’s food exports totalled 2.7 billion US dollars, according to the
Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA). Yet
producing halal food is only a recent thing, and it has been
overshadowed by the rush of Taiwan food companies to open factories in
China, the world’s largest production base and consumer market. Taiwan
began to encourage its food exporters to tap the halal food market in
2006, with TAITRA holding introduction seminars and the Chinese Muslim
Association (CMA) – Taiwan’s highest Musli