Wednesday, 10 January 2018

IHAF underlines need for unified halal certification

Unified halal certification standards are crucial to tap into the potential of the international halal food market and go beyond its projected growth of US$1.6 trillion by 2020, International Halal Accreditation Forum (IHAF) leaders have said at the 2nd China-UAE Islamic Banking and Finance Conference in Shenzhen, China.

The two-day conference explored international cooperation in support of China’s US$1 trillion One Belt, One Road initiative, which aims to connect 65 countries spanning the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Europe by land and by sea for trade and investment. This initiative is expected to accelerate the growth of global halal consumption, as halal products become cheaper to produce and transport overland.

Farah Al Zarooni, Advisor at the IHAF said at the event: “Developing credibility of halal food products and fragmented marketplace are the biggest challenges to the growth of this industry, in spite of its tremendous growth potential and over 16% share...the health benefits of halal food are generating a wide interest worldwide from (the) Muslim as well was non-Muslim population*. We must address these challenges to facilitate international halal food trade and create a halal food market that consumers can trust, for which having credible and uniform accreditation practices is a must.”

“Multiple criteria for halal products, as is being done in most cases presently, inadvertently forms trade barriers. Harmonising halal accreditation practices is the key to remove these trade barriers and create a sustainable, strong, and reliable global halal market,” Mohammed Saleh Badri, Secretary General of the IHAF added.

IHAF facilitates mutual recognition between member accreditation bodies to enhance international trade in the field of halal. By streamlining the accreditation, certification and monitoring processes, IHAF also facilitates cost-effective halal system; thus producing cheaper halal goods and promotes accessibility to global markets for halal-related firms, Zarooni explained.

With a Muslim population numbering 26 million, China has a strong domestic halal industry and continues with efforts to strengthen the halal ecosystem domestically while expanding globally. 

“China has about 0.1% share in the US$415 billion global halal market and is taking active initiatives to increase its share. Further, gaining credibility in the global halal food market is crucial for China to increase its presence. A credible halal food certification is vital for China to develop trust in these products on a global level and tap into the fast-growing demand for global halal food market, which will cross US$1.7 trillion by 2021,” Badri said.

IHAF's mission is to create a strong global halal market, harmonising halal accreditation practices in various countries, and encouraging the ease of flow of halal products between countries as well as the facilitation of international halal trade.

*While the view that non-Muslims are interested in the benefits of halal food is often stated in the halal industry, non-Muslims do not actually seek out halal products because they are halal. They are however interested in specific characteristics of halal products such as the cruelty-free aspect but would look for all foods that are produced in a cruelty-free manner rather than specifically for halal food.