Turkey misses out on $2.1 trillion halal market

| 26/09/2007 | Reply
Turkey misses out on $2.1 trillion halal market

Countries
across the world, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, have boosted income from
food exports by joining a growing market via introducing standards for
“halal” food.



Two customers choosing meat in front of a refrigerated display with a
sign reading “here you will find 100 percent halal meat,” in an Albert
Heijn supermarket in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

In
Turkey, on the other hand, exporters lament that concerns over
ideological implications of introducing halal food standards result in
Turkey’s missing out on the market, the potential customers of which
number 1.6 billion worldwide.

Introducing
a halal foodstuffs standard in 2004, Malaysia has managed to secure a
market share of $2.1 trillion worldwide. Seeing the potential, even
non-Muslim countries such as Vietnam have started to take important
steps to produce foodstuffs in conformity with the standard. The
Turkish Standards Institute (TSE) began work on introducing halal
standards two years ago, but with political factors hampering efforts,
work ahs not been concluded as of yet. Thus Turkey currently lacks both
a standard and certificate-issuing agencies.

Companies
exporting foodstuffs have been hit hardest by the delay. The lack of
such certificates has caused a perception of Turkish products as
inferior and even not halal for consumption in the eyes of Muslim
consumers. Losing their competitiveness because of their failure to
sell products having halal certificates, some companies have applied to
accreditation agencies in foreign countries to obtain these
certificates.

The
Undersecretariat for Foreign Trade finally decided to take action in
order to curb any negative impact on the competitiveness of Turkish
companies in international markets because of this issue. The
undersecretariat resumed its previous work on the issue, stressing the
fact that Turkey needs accreditation agencies that can issue halal food
certificates. However, the undersecretariat has concerns that Turkey’s
adoption of the halal food standard might lead to ideological
controversies. Officials worry that the secular establishment of the
country might emphasize the ideological aspects of a standard set
according to Islamic rules more than its commercial aspects.

In
order to avert controversy, the undersecretariat has argued that the
halal food standard should be determined not by the TSE, but by the
Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). The undersecretariat says
that the creation of this standard by the OIC will minimize doubts
about reliability of the standard, bringing central management. Turkey
also does not want Malaysia to have a monopoly on the halal food
standard. Exporters suggest that halal food standard transactions
should be conducted by the Religious Affairs Directorate.

Eli
Alharal, the owner of Selçuk G?da, a food company producing foodstuffs
for Jews under the kosher certificate, argues that the Religious
Affairs Directorate should manage the procedures concerning the halal
food standard. “The persons or organizations that will issue halal food
certificates should also be determined by the Religious Affairs
Directorate,” he said. Alharal, noting that the US and Israeli markets
require kosher certificates, which is also a standard requested in
supermarkets in Europe, said: “Since we obtained the kosher
certificate, we don’t earn extra money. We can just enter some markets
more easily, but this does not give us a price advantage.” Noting that
hundreds of companies in Turkey produce foodstuffs under the kosher
certificate, Alharal stressed that Turkey should take the lead among
Islamic countries for the halal standard as well.

O?uz
Sat?c?, chairman of the Turkish Exporters’ Assembly (T?M), agrees with
Alharal, suggesting that the Religious Affairs Directorate should take
the initiative for devising the standard. Sat?c? maintains that there
has been lengthy and pointless controversy about halal food and that
this should end. “Currently, we are closely monitoring these
controversies. If they are not concluded in a satisfactory manner, we
will make our move on the issue. We will assume responsibility for
issuing halal food certificates,” he said.

Beside
those who secure certificates from abroad, there are also some food
producers with alternative methods. P?nar Meat and Milk Products Corp.,
which exports to Saudi Arabia, a country that requires the halal food
certificate from companies, is getting the necessary document it needs
from a mufti office. Hakk? Tarakç?o?lu, the export manager of P?nar,
says they are frequently asked to provide a halal certificate by the
countries they export to. Tarakç?o?lu says they have invited
representatives from their contact companies, especially in Muslim
countries, to Turkey to tour their slaughterhouses and manufacturing
plants. A document saying our products are halal from a mufti’s office
is sufficient to persuade customers in Muslim countries, Tarakç?o?lu
further asserts. He goes on to say: “We don’t have any trouble with the
issue right now. We are submitting this halal document to any company
that wants proof. But of course formalizing the whole procedure and
making this document a standard would certainly ease the concerns of
the food manufacturing industry.”

The
halal certificate covers not only food. It also has rules regarding the
packaging, transporting, labeling and logistics of foods; preparation
procedures are also analyzed to ensure their accordance with halal
standards. These standards are applied to hotel operations, pharmacies,
cosmetics, medical instruments and many other businesses.

Category: Europe, Halal Integrity

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