The General Misconception of “Halal”

When the public hears the word “halal”, often times it leads to the misconception of Halal food. The Halal logo signifies no porcine. Food with this certification is for Muslims to identify which products are “safe” to consume. But it’s time we understood the true meaning of halal and the other areas it covers.

Having a Halal certification is not just about the end product of goods and services, but rather, it entails the entire process—from production and manufacture to delivery and consumption. The logistical aspect of a good or service is just as important as its transformation to the final product. For instance, halal food follows the notion of ‘Farm to Fork’ and thus, ensuring that the concept of halal is truly complete from its earliest stage to its last. Regardless of its industry, if a product is to be deemed halal, it should follow these conditions.

There are 6 different industries that many countries have built their halal reputation on:

  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Cosmetics/Personal Care
  • Islamic Finance
  • Travel
  • Media/Recreation
  • Food/Beverages

And in case you were wondering, no, Muslim countries are not the only halal product suppliers, as non-Muslim countries also see how this advancing market is potentially beneficial. Countries such as Brazil (world’s largest halal chicken exporter) and South Korea (world’s leading ‘halal’ cosmetics producer) are one of the many leading experts in halal products and service provisions. Other manufacturing countries include the United States, Australia, Germany, France, United Kingdom, South Africa, and many more.

 This Industry’s Potential

The halal industry has been surprising growth spurt at a rate from 6% to 11% and have been identified as one of the major economic drivers, urging many countries to partake in expanding their initiatives for this industry. This is also due to the fact that the global Muslim population has been growing exponentially (expected to reach 1.3 billion by 2030), with the GDP of Muslim-majority populated countries accounting for 15% of total global GDP.

In spite of the economic slowdown, the above mentioned six industries of the involved economies have been projected to grow at 4.2%, faster than other regions of the world (labelled by the IMF to be ‘emerging markets and developing economies’) whose projected growth rate is only 3.6% on average. Hence, with Malaysia already leading in one of the six industries as a reference centre of excellence for Islamic Finance, the foreseeable growing demand in this industry could propel us towards being the reference centre for all-things halal that would cause Malaysia to be referred to as the ‘Global Halal Hub’.

How Prepared Is Malaysia To Attain Such A Vision?

Firstly, the Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia (JAKIM) certification is recognised in 75 countries, higher than any other certification across the globe. Ultimately, this signifies Malaysia’s halal certification to be one of the best there is. JAKIM is also the first halal certifying body to certify controlled/prescriptive medicines, also known as Ethical Products, leading it to be used by pharmaceutical companies worldwide.

Its outstanding developments and progress in the halal industry should also be noted from its various contributions. One of the many include:

  • GeneSTAT, an invention by a team from Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) to test for porcine DNA in food products that is risk-free. It is the first device that became commercialised and marketed in the Middle East, Europe, and U.S.
  • Brasil Foods (BRF), one of the seventh largest food manufacturers in the world is also a major player in the halal meat industry. BRF has plans to expand its operations into Malaysia as a first step to gain access to the Asia market. This is extremely crucial as it proves the strength of Malaysia’s influence in the industry.
  • Malaysia’s Dagang Halal has also designed the world’s first online system that serves as a platform to allow users to acquire data on ‘halal’ certification documents for products and organisations across the value chain (including the organisations that have been certified by the 73 certification bodies under JAKIM).

The Present-Day Challenges Our Country Faces

Currently, we do not have a central body to regulate the policies, standards, and regulations for the industry. A primary example would be that we have no proper governance that monitors the funds allocated by the government to the parties involved in developing the halal industry; large budgets have been apportioned to various agencies such as SME Bank, Agro Bank, MARA, TERAJU, and HDC for the last 4 years, but there is no measure of impact for such a funding.

Moreover, the Small Medium Entreprises (SMEs) in Malaysia are not as well equipped to take on such a challenge. They lack the capacity, capability, exposure and even the drive to expand and contribute to this renowned industry. This could be because of the lack of governance, development, consultancy, and training in human capital and its subsequent lack of direction, structure, and demand for such expertise.

What Can We Look Forward To? Will We Ever Be Ready?

Although there is some doubt on our readiness to embark on this journey towards becoming the future ‘Global Halal Hub’, Malaysia’s government is actively taking measures to ensure that we make definite and substantial progress in this industry. The main goal is not only to be recognised by the entire global population as a reference centre for halal, but also to improve on living standards of those concerned with a halal lifestyle.

It’s safe to say, however, that we have the ability to progress in this industry together, as a nation; we have the expertise and agility to strive for success in halal but only time will tell if it translates into results.


Prepared by:

Author – Tan Joey

Editor – Ku Cheau Wei


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