Halal food is often used in reference to foods and drinks, which are permissible for Muslims to eat or drink under Islamic law or in other words Halal is any object or an action which is permissible in Islam. The criteria specifies both what foods are allowed, and how the food must be prepared under the law of Islam. These foods include types of meat and animal tissue. The food must come from a supplier that is practicing Halal. Specifically, the slaughtering must be performed by a Muslim and who must precede the butchery by invoking the name of Allahu-Akbar.
Muslim population constitutes 30 percent of the total world population. The volume of overall Halal products is estimated to have reached $3 trillion in the world. Halal meat contributes about 16 percent of total world trade of the commodity, but the market is dominated by multinational firms of the Western countries. According to a research report, the global Halal food market is set to grow at 4.44 percent during 2012-2016, mainly because of the increase in the Muslim population.
Ability to meet globally rising halal demand
Being a Muslim country and member of Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC), Pakistan can play a major role in the global Halal meat industry and having huge potential in livestock, dairy and poultry sectors, Pakistan has so far failed to capture its due share in the rapidly growing global Halal market. The country is among top livestock producing countries with 160 million livestock and it can export Halal meat products to meet the rising global demand. Unfortunately, the country’s share is minimal in the $3 trillion estimated global value of Halal market. Arab Gulf countries could prove a potential growth market for the country’s Halal meat, livestock and poultry products and to take its name Pakistan can do work out to better its trade with potential Gulf markets..
According to an estimate, the country ranked 18th in the production of Halal meat and its volume is just 3 percent of the global Halal meat production. In view of the rapid growth of global Halal market, there is a dire need to exploit the Halal trade potential of Pakistan. By virtue of its geo-strategic location, the country may be turned into a hub of food and high value crops, as there is a great demand of Halal products in the global and regional markets.
Pakistan is an agricultural country. The country is the world’s fourth largest rice producer, fifth largest dairy producer; fourth largest wheat producer and fifth largest supplier of cattle. The country can export Halal products worth $5 to $6 billion a year if the government takes serious measures to promote export of good quality food products. There is a dire need to focus on four-key areas for capturing a big share for Pakistani products in the international Halal food market. Firstly, the government should formulate a strategy in collaboration with the private sector to raise Halal food exports from the country. Secondly, the government should start work on Halal certification on war footings because certification is the main hurdle blocking exports of Halal products to the global and regional markets.
It is appreciable that Punjab government has significantly worked in this area and presently the province has more than 50 Halal certified companies engaged in export business. Thirdly, Pakistani companies should develop a technical know-how in processing, storing, transporting and marketing of meat and its products. They should ensure that their products fully comply with the strict safety codes of meat importing countries. Halal Research Council (HRC) can play a key role in Halal certification and assurance program. Fourthly and lastly, the focus should be on maintaining the international standards in packaging and marketing of Halal products. Only the standard packaging and active marketing would make Pakistani products acceptable in global Halal food market.
A good step forward by FML
The country’s Halal meat industry still lacks proper sanitary conditions, trained staff and fast adoption of the international standards and practices. Last month, Gulf countries lifted their ban on Pakistan poultry imports. The ban was imposed in 2004 following bird flu incidents in the country. The establishment of Fauji Meat Limited (FML) is a good step forward in this regard. The FML, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fauji Fertilizer Bin Qasim, would boost Pakistan’s largest state-of-the-art Halal abattoir and meat processing facility with its plant situated at Port Bin Qasim in Karachi. It would have a capacity to produce 100 tons of meat in both frozen and chilled categories on daily basis. FML has set up state-of-the-art equipments and well trained staff under the guidance of international consultants. It will be the only meat processing company in the country that offers rendered products including bone/meat meal, blood meal & tallow conforming to international quality standards.
The country has the potential of becoming market of Halal food for the world if some crucial measures are taken by the government to tap the country’s vast potential in this sector.
— The government should hold mega shows and exhibitions across the world in order to provide local entrepreneurs, business houses dealing in food products especially the exporters of mutton, beef, poultry and allied industries with the opportunities to showcase their products.
— The government should take steps to modernize post-harvest storage and marketing systems.
— There is a dire need to revamp the agricultural and livestock research organizations and institutions, which can benefit the farmers and breeders through their valuable research studies.
— Steps need to be taken to turn livestock and agriculture into a fully viable economic activity and attain self-sufficiency in food production.
— The modern technologies in agriculture must be adopted for efficient input use.
— All modern strategies and tools should effectively be utilized for packaging and marketing of products in the international Halal market.
— State-of-art Halal slaughter houses complying with international best practices should be established in every district and town across the country.
— The government should take serious steps to improve the socio-economic conditions of the local farmers so that a large number of livestock and their products could be supplied in the global Halal food market.
— Institutions like Punjab Halal Development Agency (PHDA) must also be established in other provinces in order to formalize the Halal sector through Halal certification, business projection, capacity-building, and compliance regime of Halal food safety standards together with branding the country as a hub of Halal products.