From beer to miso: Six Japan firms seeking to boost halal exports to South East Asia

By Lester Wan

- Last updated on GMT

Japanese firms are targetting South East Asia's biggest halal markets. ©GettyImgaes
Japanese firms are targetting South East Asia's biggest halal markets. ©GettyImgaes

Related tags: South east asia, Asia, Southeast asia

Japanese food firms are stepping up their efforts to drive export success in Malaysia and Indonesia after securing halal certification.

The global halal food market is tipped to be worth $2.55m by 2025, with the Middle East and South East Asia offering the biggest opportunities for Japanese manufacturers and suppliers.

Japan’s Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp (SMBC) recently said it was looking to fund food companies seeking to expand in Malaysia.

And the Japanese government is keen to see halal food exports increase to increase awareness of ‘brand Japan’, with the aim of driving halal tourism to the country.

A number of Japanese companies seeking distributors in South East Asia were at the the recent Food Japan 2017 event in Singapore. Here are six of those firms which were highlighting their halal credentials to aid market entry.

Halal sesame oil and powder products

Kuki Sangyo Co Ltd produces sesame products such as roasted seeds, oils, pastes and powders for various cooking uses. All its products are halal-certified by the Japan Muslim Association. They are also certified by Jakim in Malaysia.

According to assistant manager Masato Tanaka,the company began exporting halal products about five years ago. They are now available in Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Canada, the US and Europe.

He said that about $50m worth of products were exported last year.

For overseas markets, he said Kuki products are already used in non-Japanese food such as in salad dressings or savoury dishes. It is even used in hummus in the Middle East.

Halal japanese curry

Nichiin Food Creative Corporation has set up a Malaysian branch, Nichiin Food Sdn Bhd with a halal-certified factory. It produces halal Japanese curry and curry spices under the Maharaja Curry brand. All the products have been halal certified by Jakim.

Maharaja Curry is available in the USA, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, according to managing director Atsuko Kanamori, who is keen to expand this list.

The firm first beagn to export the products about five to six years ago, when they started the halal operation in Malaysia. 

Meanwhile House Foods Group Inc, known for spices, seasonings and processed food such as tofu, was also showcasing its curry.

Its entity in Indonesia, PT House & Vox Indonesia, was launched in September 2016. The factory and ingredients used are all halal-certified by the Indonesian Muslim authority, MUI. The curry products are already available in Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, and it is hoped that they will be exported to the UAE, Turkey and India within the next two to three years.

Marketing director Tetsufumi Koda said sales had been good, double that of non-halal products in Indonesia, at about IDR4bn, around US$4300,000, in the past year.

Halal beer

Under subsidiary company Japan Beverage, Nippon Beer Co Ltd has three types of non-alcoholic halal beers. It produces these drinks at a halal-certified factory of another company, JA, a juice maker in Japan.

Three of its beers are halal certified, but only its main export brand, Ninja Lager, currently carries the halal label.

According to Ilkay Cayli, senior sales manager & marketing, the idea to produce halal-certified beer was only conceived last year.

The beers are available in the UAE, Taiwan, Thailand and the UK, and in a few supermarkets in Bangladesh and Singapore. It is in discussions to export to Indonesia and other South Asian countries.

Nippon Beer also hopes to have its halal beers in stores and supermarkets near the embassies of Muslim countries.

Halal fermented soybeans and soy products

Kanasago Foods Co Ltd from Ibaraki prefecture has two production facilities that are halal-certified by the Japanese Muslim Authority. The company mainly produces natto (fermented soybean), mamenoka paste and mamenoka waffles.

It first explored halal certification around three years ago to increase exports.

Currently, some of the products are available in the USA. Other markets soon to carry the halal soybean products include Singapore, Vietnam and Hong Kong, with a view to other countries in South East Asia in the future.

Yang Fei, of the International Trading Department, Kanasago Foods Co Ltd, added that the company was in the midst of producing a recipe book on the use of Kanasago’s soy products in local South East Asian food such as bak kut teh.

Halal miso

Renowned miso and koji maker Marukome produces halal non-preserved white and red miso varieties for restaurants, and halal Ryotei No Aji dashi stock-mixed miso paste for consumers.

Traditional fermented miso pastes contain small levels of alcohol.

The halal-certified products were first launched three years ago to increase the recognition of miso and Japanese food culture overseas.

 

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