15 Nov 2016
Certification: The Key to Accessing ASEAN’s Halal Market
Nowadays, the term "halal" can be taken to refer to far more than just food that Muslims are permitted to consume in strict accordance with Islamic laws. It also represents a substantial global business sector and can also be used as means of marketing certain products. Meanwhile, halal certification also guarantees the quality and safety of the products that carry its endorsement. With the global Muslim population estimated to be around 2.0 billion, the total value of the halal market – including both food and non-food segments – is said to be some US$2.3 trillion and is set for still further growth. By 2030, the global Muslim population is estimated to reach 2.2 billion – representing some 25% of the world's consumers.
With this in mind, Malaysia is now striving to become a global halal hub. In order to further this aim, the country has developed a set of standards that are now widely accepted across the world and by Muslim countries in particular. The country’s Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM) has overall responsibility for implementing the halal certification system, as well as for monitoring and enforcing halal guidelines across the country.
Interviewed by the HKTDC’s Malaysia Office, Muhammad Naim Bin Mohd Aziz, Senior Assistant Director of the JAKIM Halal Hub Division, outlined how Hong Kong companies can ensure their own products and services qualify for halal certification.
HKTDC: What is required for a company to be able to claim halal compliance for its food products, goods or services?
JAKIM: No foods, finished goods or services can be described as halal unless they are certified as such by a halal competent authority within the country where they are produced or provided. In Malaysia, foods/drinks/supplements, food premises, restaurant, hotel kitchen, catering, consumables/consumer goods, cosmetics, slaughterhouses, pharmaceuticals and logistic services companies are the most common sectors to seek halal certification.
HKTDC: Which authority can issue certification and supply halal approval in Malaysia?
JAKIM: Only the Department of Islamic Development of Malaysia (JAKIM) and the State Religious Council (MAIN) have the authority to certify premises as halal compliant.
HKTDC: Is the Malaysia halal logo recognised outside Malaysia?
JAKIM: Given the credibility of its standards, a halal certification granted by the Malaysian authorities is recognised in many other Islamic countries. This helps certified products and service operators to develop extensive halal distribution and business networks across Asia, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and across the wider world.
HKTDC: If I am selling food products, should I get certification for the companies or the food? Which part of the food supply chain should be certified?
JAKIM: Halal certification can be accorded at different levels. Businesses engaged in food production and manufacturing (including subcontracted manufacturers), food distribution and trading, slaughtering, food retailing and eateries, are all eligible to apply for certification. Almost any food product can be certified as halal. Various cakes and syrups served at Starbucks, for instance, have already been certified.
HKTDC: Which other goods and services has Malaysia endorsed as halal compliant?
JAKIM:Malaysia was the first country in the world to introduce halal logistics standards and halal certification for logistics service providers. We have now also introduced halal standards and certification for pharmaceuticals products.
HKTDC: What are the basic requirements for securing halal certification in Malaysia?
JAKIM: In principle:
- The company must produce or supply halal-only products and services. In other words, it must be business dedicated solely to the production or provision of solely halal products or services.
- A company listed under the multinational and small and medium industry (SME) category is required to establish a Halal Assurance Management System (HAS) to oversee and ensure compliance with the halal certification procedures.
- An applicant is required to have a minimum of two permanent Muslim Malaysian members of staff working in the kitchen/handling/food processing section.
- The transportation used must be specifically for halal product delivery only.
- More detailed guidelines and procedures can be found on the Halal Malaysia website (www.halal.gov.my).
HKTDC: How can a product manufactured outside of Malaysia obtain Malaysia halal certification?
JAKIM: Malaysia recognises 56 halal certification bodies in 33 countries that are able to certify imported products. These include four on the Chinese mainland (Beijing, Henan, Shandong and Ningxia) and one in Taiwan. The Recognised List of Foreign Halal Certification Bodies is revised by JAKIM on an annual basis. Hong Kong food exporters should check the Halal Malaysia website for updates. Should an investor be keen to secure a halal certification from Malaysia, they can apply directly to JAKIM, provided they have an agent in Malaysia.
HKTDC: How much does halal certification cost?
JAKIM: Halal certification fees are charged with regard to document processing and site inspections. These are borne by the applicant and vary according to the size and type of business. Once secured, halal certification is valid for two years. Payment is required for every renewal.
Mae Lee, Kuala Lumpur Office