China’s food safety issues and the subsequent turn by middle-class consumers towards quality imports have made it a hot market for Malaysia’s halal foods, according to a top Malaysian government official.
Dato Seri Kamil Bidin, chief executive of the Halal Industry Development Corporation, told FoodNavigator-Asia that China is now the top export market for Malaysian halal foods.
Established in 2006, the HDC works for the overall development of the halal industry in Malaysia.
“China’s halal market is worth US$2bn and is growing exponentially,” said Bidin, who was speaking at Gulfood, the world’s largest annual food and beverage industry show.
China has a minority population of Muslims that tops out at 20 million, but according to Bidin, with all the food safety issues that China has had in the recent years, an opportunity has been created for halal foods.
“Halal is seen as an assurance of safety and quality in China. When all the food scandals started happening [and received media coverage], people there started placing more emphasis on halal foods,” Bidin said.
According to Bidin, the majority of the halal foods being exported are in the confectionary and snacks segment.
“Now when people see the halal certification label from Malaysia, they know that it has gone through stringent quality and safety checks,” he added.
Malaysia jumps in
The certification muddle in China is another factor that has helped Malaysian halal foods. In China, halal producers must have their products certified by local provincial governments and ethnic affairs commissions.
This creates a situation where there are halal products on the market with various types of halal logos and certification, designated by province and region on the packaging.
However, Malaysia is one of the pioneers in halal certification, having introduced a national standard about four decades ago, said Bidin, which has been accepted by CODEX and also replicated by many other nations, making it one of most recognised type of standards in the world.