The World Halal Summit 2015 really has its roots in the fertile soil of 2004 when the inaugural Malaysian International Halal Showcase (MIHAS) was hosted in Kuala Lumpur. At that time, there was a dawning realisation that Halal represented a potentially powerful market force, and that in addition to a trade show, a conference would be a useful element to further serve this market.
It took another two years, but in 2006 the first World Halal Forum took place back-to-back with MIHAS, attracting around 400 delegates from around the world – and another 250 who came for the Gala Dinner! This was the first Halal industry event that was specifically geared toward the Halal industry stakeholders; the food producers and manufacturers, the traders and importers, retailers, restaurant chains, and food service companies.
The event was an eye-opener; for us as organisers as well as for many of the delegates. Conventional wisdom tells us that it is hard to keep a conference audience through to the end; that first year around 150 people stayed on for several hours to discuss the future of our industry, our movement. Some people told us that they had no idea of the scope and potential of Halal, and that the WHF changed their lives.
Fast forward a decade, and we find the same energies collaborating to create an event that could serve as an integral element along with MIHAS, a way to ‘talk the talk’, and ‘walk the walk’ at the same time. There has been a feeling among many Halal sector insiders around the world that the narrative of the Halal market needs to be updated. We have all spent a decade talking about where we are trying to get to, and what needs to be done. It is time for a fresh look.
A great deal has happened in a decade. Halal is on the agenda, in some form or other, of an increasing number of governments, multinationals, SME’s, entrepreneurs, investors and market analysts. Recent estimates for the value of the Halal food sector alone for 2013 are over $1 trillion. This market has strong roots, a firm main stem, and has branched out with profusion…into personal care, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, health, logistics…and further into travel, modest fashion, media and entertainment, the creative arts. Now it is moving into the stabilising issues of regulation, accreditation, reputation and perception.
A Halal Ecosystem indeed! And one that transcends race, colour, creed, culture and geography. It is has really arrived as a global phenomenon, albeit a youthful one with its own set of issues and challenges.
After a great deal of reflection, it was agreed that the World Halal Summit 2015, in addition to Unified Plenary Sessions addressing matters of general concern and interest, there should be focused breakout Forums that allow more in-depth discussions around topics of particular interest to specialist audiences.
So, the World Halal Summit 2015 has the following composition: Unified Plenary Sessions for the opening and closing sessions, followed by four concurrent breakout Forums for Certifiers, Business, Academics, Scholars.
As in the past, we are endeavouring to address issues that actually matter to industry stakeholders, to learn from new research and market data, to share expertise and experience, and to bring together some of the brightest and most creative minds in the industry.
Some of the topics that we are exploring at the WHS 2015 include:
- The Role of Accreditation Bodies to Regulate the Global Halal Market: this session will look at the development of international accreditation bodies to regulate the Halal certification procedures, especially the initiatives being put in place in the GCC region, and under the OIC
- Managing Perceptions of Halal in Global Markets: the shifting geo-political context plays a significant role in how people perceive Halal food. How effectively are we managing our own market image?
- Harmonising Halal Standards – an impossible dream? As the Halal market continues to grow, the need for harmonised standards becomes more apparent. Can this be really be achieved – and if so, how?
- Crowd Funding – the Key to a New Generation of Entrepreneurs? With an estimated 60million jobs needed across the Muslim world by 2020, we need new ways to fund new business ideas. Is crowd-funding the answer?
- Risk Assessment in the Halal Sector: In addition to normal business risks, there are a host of unexplored risks associated with the Halal market from opposition by vocal consumer groups, public misconceptions, different interpretations, right wing extremists, animal welfare groups and conflicts of interest.
- Food Commodity Speculation: With the collapse of the sub-prime mortgage market, many speculators moved into the food commodity markets, driving up the prices of commodities needed by farmers in the developing world, at times accounting for 60% of all market activity and leading to poverty, hunger and starvation. We examine the Islamic position on this dangerous practice.
- Curriculum Development in the Islamic Economy – are we doing enough? Why are there not more academic and professional courses on offer to train a generation of Halal sector professionals?
- Halal in the Digital Age: As more and more activity takes place online, we look at some new initiatives to create online trading platforms to open up the international marketplace to SME’s and start-ups.
In addition to these formal topics, there will be some more informal open question and answer sessions with a group of Islamic Scholars to discuss matters of interest and concern.
There will also be investment matching sessions where Halal sector SME’s looking for finance or investment can meet interested investors from the Islamic Finance sector on a pre-booked one-to-one basis, as part of the Business Forum.
And of course, there is always the opportunity to network. In the past, some strong alliances and partnerships have been forged at these gatherings, and there will be plenty of opportunities to spend time to meet old friends and make the new connections that can lead to success.
Malaysia has long championed the growth of the Halal market, and is a global leader in terms of government initiatives, clear standards, established certification procedures and events that promote trade and cooperation. The World Halal Summit 2015 continues to build on over a decade of hosting international Halal market events, and we look forward to joining old acquaintances and new friends to explore the new horizon of this global market.
Online registration as well as further details on the programme can be seen at: www.worldhalalsummit.com.