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Halal conference looks at unification and opportunities

By RJ Whitehead , 12-Dec-2012

Some of the leading names in the halal meat industry have gathered in the UAE city of Sharjah to call for unified standards across the industry and to look at greater awareness of business opportunities from halal around the world. 

The inaugural Halal Congress Middle East saw an international cast of halal experts over the two days of the event. 

Unified standards

"While the focus was on the multitude of business opportunities associated with one of the fastest growing industries in the world, the need for a unified standards system was heard loud and clear since all stakeholders in the industry know very well that a single halal standard will ultimately harmonise exports and imports and ease market access to several regions," said Saif Mohammed Al Midfa, one of the organisers.

There are a number of halal opportunities around the world, and by far the most rewarding is the United States, said Al Midfa. 

US Halal market opportunities are largely untapped. Halal consumers spend US$20bn on food in the US each year but manufacturers are yet to fully tap into this affluent market segment," he said Mr Saif Mohammed Al Midfa, quoting the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America.

Growing business

According to a study carried out by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies, the number of Muslims in America rose to 2.6m in 2010, from 1m a decade earlier, underscoring the potential for growth in both sales and regulatory infrastructure within the country. 

On the export front, while Australia, New Zealand and Brazil have long been established as major suppliers to Halal markets worldwide, while the US lags behind by a considerable gap.

"The global Halal industry is estimated at $2.77tn and growing more than 20% annually. It caters for around 1.6bn consumers worldwide," said Asad Sajjad, CEO of the Halal Development Council.