Dec 5 - 11, 20

The halal products are moving into mainstream business and their demand is steadily increasing. Halal products are now seen as a potential engine of economic growth.

Pakistan can assume a leadership role in global halal food market, being a Muslim country, provided proper strategies are put in place.

Pakistan has a potential to get precious forex by streamlining the business of halal meat products.

At present, there are 22 halal meat processing plants in the country. Out of which 16 are operating in Punjab.

Anis Associates (Pvt.) Limited is one of the most modern halal meat processing and exporting units in Pakistan in Kasur.

This plant has been approved by the governments of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, other Muslim countries for the halal chilled and frozen meat.

"Our processing capacity is 100 M/Ton per day including goat, lamb, sheep, cow bull, camel in chilled and frozen form," said Nasib Ahmed Saifi, chief executive Anis Associates.

Talking to PAGE, he said demand for halal foods is increasing not only in the USA, Europe and Canada, but also in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, North Africa and Australia. Halal consumers market/trade are growing fast in the world.

Mr. Saifi said Pakistan can easily increase halal meat products exports up to US$5 billion. He said one of the major issues faced by halal meat processors and exporters is gas and electricity load shedding. If gas and electricity are provided to them without any hindrance, they can bring much more precious forex for the country.

According to Pew Forum on Religious and Public life, the estimated total Muslim population was 1.8 billion in 2010, which constitutes 28 per cent of the total global population of 6.8 billion. Of them, over 60 per cent live in Asia, one fifth in the Middle East and North Africa.

Some 400-600 million Muslims live as minorities in other regions. In Europe, there are an estimated 38.1 million Muslims. One million live in Canada whereas estimated eight million Muslims live in USA.

The global halal food market is valued at US$635 billion in 2010, according to Halal Journal, a Kuala Lumpur based magazine as well as Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America. It is about 16 per cent of the total global food industry.

The American halal market is estimated at US$17.6 billion. Besides Muslims, other segments of population have also joined the rank of halal consumers. Non-Muslims also like halal foods because of its safety and sanitation features.

Mr. Saifi, who is also chairman LCCI's Standing Committee on Halal Meat, said that Anis Associates set up halal meat processing plant in the year 2004 and now they are exporting halal meat products to Middle East and Central Asian States.

He was of full praise to Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif who paid special attention for the promotion of halal meat products in the province. He said livestock farms are providing animals to meat processors.

He said: "Over the last few years many halal markets such as ethnic stores and restaurants have sprung up in major metropolitan areas to cater to the needs of Muslim population. In the past, Muslims businesspersons slaughtered their own animals but the concept of halal certification was foreign to them. Halal certification has become popular for domestic products as well as for exports specifically from non-Muslim countries."

To a query, he said food processors should be aware of the following common food ingredients and sources before making halal foods: food additives; amino acids; animal fats and protein; colours; dressings, sauces and seasonings; emulsifiers; enzymes; fats and oils; fat based coatings, grease and release agent; flavors and flavorings; gelatins; glycerin; hydrolyzed protein; meat and its by-products; packaging materials; stabilizers; thickening agents; vitamins, and whey protein.

When processing halal products, it is necessary to eliminate all non-halal ingredients, he said, adding: "In halal business, there is also a corporate social responsibility for the promising owners, their managers, employees, suppliers and regulating authorities that the business is committed to purity, cleanliness and honesty in everything it does."

Nasib Ahmed further said the halal food industry is unique in the sense that it is the largest industry where religious values are upheld during the production and distribution.

Being a Muslim and agrarian economy, he said, Pakistan is in the advantageous position to secure a significant share in the halal market if steps are taken in the right direction. But incidentally, it has little presence, so far in the halal economy which essentially caters to the faith-related needs of Muslim consumers worldwide.