Currently, most of the Philippines’ meat exports are processed meats, including corned beef and hot dog, while chilled chicken yakitori nuggets and Peking duck are also shipped to overseas markets.
The Philippine Halal Export Development and Promotion Act will create new halal export task forces and provide for upgrades to processing facilities, such as slaughterhouses, warehouses, and laboratories. It will also grant fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to attract investments in the halal export sector and, moreover, stipulates the issue of a new Philippine Halal logo. Although the new law took effect on May 31, budgets have yet to be disclosed.
“The Philippines’ meat exports, including to the Islamic world, are still marginal, owing to limited output of the domestic livestock sector,” said Abdul Rahman Linzag, president of the Islamic Da’wah Council of the Philippines (IDCP), which is one of the Philippines’ five recognised halal certification and accreditation authorities.
“Meat processors from around the Philippines could benefit from increased halal exports, but less so those of Mindanao [the country’s only predominately Muslim island], as Mindanao focuses on seafood and some agricultural products other than meat,” he added.
Halal - a certification of quality
The Philippines’ main player in halal exports is Peking duck producer Maharlika Agro Marine Venture Corporation. In December 2015, Maharlika secured halal accreditation from the Dubai ministry of environment and water, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), facilitating access for its Peking duck not only to Dubai and the rest of the UAE but also to other Middle East countries such as Oman, Qatar, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia.
There could be domestic benefits too. According IDCP’s Linzag, halal certification of Philippine meat does not only concern Muslim consumers in this 87% Catholic country, as non-Muslim Filipinos increasingly see it as an actual certification of quality.
“As the halal meat certification entails many processes, from our monitoring of overseas cattle production facilities to the supervision of local meat processors, the certain end result is that the meat product is very reliable,” he explained to GlobalMeatNews.
However, the law is controversial among the Philippines’ Muslim community. This is because it effectively shifts halal-related authority from the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), which is the link between the government and the country’s Muslim minority, to the Catholic-dominated department of trade and industry.