BANKOK: The term “Halal” refers to what is permissible according to traditional Islamic law. Although Halal is usually associated with dietary laws, it is actually not limited to only food and beverages. Nowadays, the halal industry has expanded to various other manufacturing sectors such as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, toiletries and medical equipment, as well as in service sectors such as logistics, financing, banking and tourism.
Nevertheless, halal food remains the market with the biggest share and the greatest potential. In 2016, halal food production made up 61 percent of the total value in halal market.
There are currently more than 2 billion Muslims worldwide, or approximately 28.3 percent of the world population. Additionally, as halal food products are perceived as having high quality and being produced under safe and ethically responsible conditions, they have gained increasing acceptance even among non-Muslim consumers. Thus, halal food has become one of the fastest growing market sectors, particularly 2010-2015 which saw annual growth averaging 8 percent.
Furthermore, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which comprises of 57 Islamic countries, imported over US$164 billion worth of food products in 2014. The number has reportedly grown 16 percent annually over the past five years, higher than the annual growth rate of the overall food market, which grows approximately 10 percent per year.
Due to both its size and its growth rate, the National Food Institute (NFI) recognised the potential of the halal food market. And as a result of the high quality of agricultural materials, the capabilities of Thai entrepreneurs, the trustworthiness and reliability of the religion institution, and the support from the government, Thailand has become the 10th largest exporter of halal food products in the world, totalling 200 billion baht (US$6 billion) or 22 percent of total overall food exports.
It should be noted, however, that the main halal food exporters of the world are not Muslim countries, but rather major food exporters such as the United States, Brazil, Netherlands, China, and Germany. Thailand is currently the 10th biggest exporter of halal food products. Among Thailand’s main food exports are rice, corn, tapioca flour, sugar, crackers, chicken, fish, shrimp, canned tuna, vegetable juice, fruits, processed fruit products, and seasonings.
In December 2017, the NFI, represented by President Mr. Yongvut Saovapruk, and the Central Islamic Council of Thailand (CICOT), represented by Secretary-General Pol. Gen. Surin Palarae, had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on cooperation of academic personnel, halal standards, and research & development in the Thai halal industry, at Thai Food Heritage, National Food Institute. The MoU aims to enhance and strengthen the halal food industry in Thailand and help Thai halal food products gain acceptance of both Muslim and non-Muslim countries alike. (The Bangkok Post)