First-of-its-kind blockchain technology to trace Halal food launched in Dubai

By Tingmin Koe contact

- Last updated on GMT

HalalChain will be commercially launched in August, according to co-founder Dr Sulaiman Liu.
HalalChain will be commercially launched in August, according to co-founder Dr Sulaiman Liu.
New blockchain technology – HalalChain – has been launched to enable consumers to trace and track halal products, in an attempt to overcome difficulties posed by scores of accreditation schemes and regulatory uncertainty.

Industry experts from Indonesia, China, Pakistan, Australia, Nigeria and Malaysia have come together, spending six months on the research process, developed by HLC Technologies FZCO.

In an interview with FoodNavigator-Asia, Dr Sulaiman Liu, co-founder of HalalChain, shared that the technology uses smart IoT devices, RFID, Sensor, LoRa, smart cameras with AI, and so on, for data gathering.

Once a manufacturer subscribes to their service, the company will first do an on-site inspection, which is followed by a tailor made blockchain solution, including the steps and methods for real-time data collection.

Next, devices which are needed to collect and store data are installed on-site. On the consumer end, information collected will then be accessed by scanning a QR code printed on the food package.

“If a particular step is not done correctly, a warning siren will ring, prompting removal of the product that is manufactured in the incorrect way. “

In this way, consumers will know if a particular Halal product is manufactured in the right way, including the “types of feed given to animals, whether the animal is butchered in the Halal way.”

It is a third-party quality inspection agency and data uploaded cannot be modified, preserving authenticity of information.

Three companies from Indonesia, Singapore and UAE signed the memorandums of understanding for participating in the pilot phase. Around 100 invited guests, including regulatory bodies and industry players attended the demo launch event held at the Dubai Airport Freezone (DAFZA) held this month.

After the three-month pilot phase is over, HalalChain will be commercially launched in August.

Preserving integrity

The founders of HalalChain believe that the technology is able to resolve four challenges that have made it difficult to ensure the integrity of halal products.

The global halal industry currently faces challenges arising from 1) the lack of a globally re-organised halal certification system, 2) inaccurate and unauthentic data of halal products, 3) poor regulation of raw materials for halal products, and 4) difficulty in managing and regulating the industry from a centralised regulatory system, according to the white paper presented by HalalChain.

“I once went to a supermarket and found two different chicken products, one is a normal product selling at $6 for 500g. The other claimed to be antibiotic free, range-free, and cost $31 for 500g! The price difference was huge. But how can I prove that the claims are indeed valid?”​ Dr Sulaiman recalled.

It was under such circumstances that HalalChain was developed, with the goal of being a “healthy and quality solution provider”.

“Customers have the right to know if the claims are valid since the price of the products are so high… Some manufacturers may also think that since the manufacturing process is kept away from the public eye, there is no need to produce a quality product that shows that the health claims are valid. There is simply no motivation for them to do so,”​ he said.

“Blockchain is the perfect trust mechanism that can solve problems arising from trust issues.”

HalalChain is aiming to become a fully-automated platform in its newer versions, as some information still requires manual key-in for the time being. Becoming fully automated will prevent any tampering of data by the manufacturers. 

Prospects

The global halal economy is estimated to be worth at around USD 3.9 trillion, according to the State of the Global Islamic Economy Report 2016-7 by Thomson Reuters.

It is expected to hit USD 6.4 trillion this year, offering huge opportunities for HalalChain.   

However, opportunities also lie beyond the world of Halal food.

Besides halal foods, blockchain technology can also be used in ensuring the integrity of organic, non-GMO and gluten-free food, said Dr Sulaiman.

He said, for a start, the company will start off with primary halal markets such as the UAE, Indonesia and Malaysia, followed by secondary markets such as Australia, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, and others, but ultimately the company “has set its sight on the global market”.

As such, Dr Sulaiman shared that they have offices in different countries such as Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, the UAE, and so on. 

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