Last financial year Dubai Cooperative Society-owned Al Islami made US$4.1m, up 65% from US$2.5 the year before. Its overall turnover rose 8% year-on-year, but sales to countries outside the GCC were up 14% in value and 23% by volume, on the back of increased global demand for Halal food, Al Islami said. The firm did not disclose its total turnover.
The firm aims to cash in on the growing Halal boom with a new factory in Dubai, due to be completed in 2015. The plant will add at least 1,000 tonnes a month of production capacity, tripling its current 550-tonne facilities, as well as creating 1,000 new jobs.
Marginal GCC growth
“While the GCC market showed a marginal increase in terms of food consumption, Al Islami was able to remain profitable by expanding beyond the GCC,” said Saleh Saeed Lootah, chairman of Al Islami.
“Through production differentiation, Al Islami will be targeting consumers who prefer to have quality meat and food products on the dinner table. At the same time, we will also advocating the UAE's important stature in the world halal industry,” he added.
Al Islami’s increasing focus on global Halal markets reflects Dubai’s ambitions to become a world hub for Halal products. The emirate is creating a dedicated Halal Zone, along with a Halal certification body, which it hopes will become the global authority on Islamic products.
Halal capital of the world
“The UAE's Halal food sector has made considerable strides, thanks to the government policies which aim at establishing the country as the capital of the world Halal economy. The food sector has benefited largely from this encouragement. We are looking at greater volumes of Halal food from the UAE reaching consumers in other countries,” said Hamid Badawi, deputy CEO of Al Islami.
Along with other Middle East markets such as Egypt, Yemen and Iraq, the firm has seen growing demand from European countries and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Al Islami’s next international target markets will be other Arab countries, and countries in East Asia with significant Muslim populations, including Malaysia and Singapore.
“Our biggest markets will continue to remain the UAE and the GCC. But at the same time, the success of our international foray has encouraged us to look at other global markets where there is a huge demand for quality Halal food products. We are also looking actively to build a presence in the Far East and the Middle East to sell our products,” said Badawi.