Special report

Pakistan: lost opportunity for halal exports

By Rahimullah Yusufzai, in Peshawar

- Last updated on GMT

Pakistan is falling behind in the halal market
Pakistan is falling behind in the halal market

Related tags Halal meat Pakistan Beef Lamb Livestock

Pakistan meat sector executives believe their export sector is underperforming, failing especially to seize sales in affluent international halal markets.

With an estimated annual output of 2.2 million tonnes, Pakistan is the 19th-largest producer of meat in the world. However, its share of the US$300bn global halal meat market outside Pakistan is just US$115m, according to the All Pakistan Meat Exporters and Processors Association.

Experts and meat exporters believe Pakistani exporters could triple their share of the market by formulating better policies. Ahmad Jawad, export committee member at the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Globalmeatnews.com​ that Pakistani halal meat exports could surpass US$500m within about five years with proper planning and policies. And overseas sales growth has been occurring: “In the six years ending in 2009, Pakistani red meat exports rose by an average of 68.6% a year, though admittedly from a very low base,”​ he added.

Quality livestock

Muhammad Zubair Mughal, chief executive officer of Pakistan’s Halal Research Council (HRC), stressed at an April (2013) conference in Lahore that Pakistan had more than 160 million quality livestock, including 71 million cattle and buffaloes and 89 million goats and sheep.

“Despite its vast potential, Pakistan’s share in the global production of halal meat is only 2.9%. No Islamic country is included in the list of the first 10 halal meat exporters, though Pakistan is among the countries with a huge, untapped potential,”​ he added.

And more money could be made from halal meat by-products, said Mughal, noting there were more than 26 halal industries using such sources, including the casings, bones, gelatin, sausages and leather industries.

Shamadar Khan, a Peshawar-based exporter of cattle to Afghanistan, said not much attention was paid to the halal meat market despite its vast potential. “The halal meat exported to Afghanistan mostly comes from India and other countries. From Pakistan, live animals are exported or smuggled to Afghanistan,”​ he told Globalmeatnews.com​.

According to a note from the Punjab Agriculture and Meat Company (Pamco), around 2.5 million live animals worth US$1.4bn are smuggled yearly from Pakistan. Its officials said this reduced domestic meat sales and exports.

And smuggling is not just to Afghanistan. In an interview with Globalmeatnews.com, the All Pakistan Meat Exporters and Processors Association media secretary Abdul Hannan complained that smuggling of livestock was also being undertaken across land borders to Iran, and also by sea to Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). “Livestock smuggling is damaging three industries in Pakistan – meat, leather and meat by-products. It must stop if our halal meat industry is to attain its full potential,”​ he said.

He emphasised the need for a credible halal meat certification body to help Pakistan halal producers sell their products. “Right now, Pakistan as an Islamic country is able to export halal meat to Muslim countries. Once we have credible halal certification process, we could also export to non-Muslim countries where demand for halal meat is growing because of the presence of a rising number of Muslims, and due to the realisation that halal meat is healthy and tasty,”​ he added.

Improved share

Asad Sajjad, secretary general of the Karachi-based Halal Development Council and senior vice-president of the Halal Association of Pakistan, told Globalmeatnews.com​ that Pakistan’s share in the global halal market has slightly improved in recent years, due to the availability of modern abattoirs improving processing quality.

“Five state-of-the-art abattoirs have been built in Karachi and Lahore by some of the big and known Pakistani industrial groups such as Dawood [Dawood Hercules Corporation Limited] and the capacity [in 2013] increased by 60% [compared to] last year,”​ he said.

He explained that Pakistan mainly exported halal meat to Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries – Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman. Buyers from these countries visit Pakistan abattoirs and place orders after ensuring that their meat is halal and hygienic.

“However, Pakistan has yet to enter the halal meat market in non-Islamic countries. We need to tap this market by utilising our advantages, including the fact that our livestock is organic-fed having higher value and that we do non-stunned, hand slaughter, which makes the meat taste good,”​ he claimed.

Sajjad and other meat experts and exporters credited the government in Pakistan’s most populous province, Punjab, for taking the initiative to ensure proper halal meat certification and increase exports. They said the Punjab Halal Development Agency (PHDA) was spearheading efforts to enact a law to make halal meat products compliant to international standards for boosting exports.

Other steps taken by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif were to oversee the establishment of a modern Punjab government-owned slaughterhouse at Shahpur Kanjran, near Lahore, with a capacity for slaughtering 3.5 million animals annually and setting up a meat technology institute to train industry staff.

The provincial government in Sindh, too, has announced plans to set up an industrial park in Karachi for halal products, working with Malaysia’s Halal Industry Development Corporation, but a memorandum of understanding signed in December 2010 has yet to be implemented.

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