Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Govt Should Use ‘Boko Halal’ To Address Boko Haram – Soyinka

Prof Soyinka made this remark on Monday, while speaking with journalists in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, where he noted that Halal is the opposite of Haram. He commended the state government for winning and hosting the World Book Capital city next year, stressing that both the state and the country will benefit from the festival. Prof Soyinka suggested that the slogan ‘Nigeria is Boko Halal’ should be adopted as the campaign slogan for the World Book Capital. “When they (Boko Haram insurgents) say Boko Haram, we say Boko Halal” he said.
He explained that Halal; an Islamic term designating any object or an action which is permissible to use or engage in, means “virtue, goodness and peace.” Islamic fundamentalists that seek the imposition of Sharia law across Nigeria are known as Boko Haram which means ‘western education is sinful.’ Noting that he was in the state to pledge support to the festival, Soyinka declared that the ‘World Book Capital’ will spark literary activities and attract intellectual tourism in the state.
“Certain infrastructures will be left behind…there will be in transportation, in hotel facilities, because the whole world is coming to your door steps…..even catering businesses will boom including lots of literary activities- publishing, book sales and building of libraries.” With such activities the Professor of literature opined that terrorism and violence can be curbed through educational activities, as he claimed that “a country with high illiteracy levels breeds sinister groups like the Boko Haram.” 
Manipulating Judiciary
Asked of his view on the political crisis in Rivers State, he expressed his worries about the crisis, quipping that “as a citizen of the country he has the right to comment hence I am very worried over happenings in the state.” I’m very much concerned about the imbroglio which the state appears to be at the moment. My main comment is for heaven’s sake whatever happens internally between parties and so on, please don’t debase or manipulate the judiciary.” “That is my appeal to the governance at all levels” he affirmed.
He also spoke on the grounding of aircraft of the Rivers State Governor by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), saying the action smacks of ‘pettiness’ which is not expected in a democracy like Nigeria.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Gippsland council cops hate mail over halal efforts

The Facebook page uses the Baw Baw Shire official logo, contains anti-Islamic commentary and says the shire supports Islamic jihad and sharia law.
The group's co-founder, Drouin resident Dianne Summerfield, says she set up the page because she is against the shire's halal program, which helps local businesses become halal accredited.
She says people are sending threatening letters to Baw Baw Shire councillors and staff because they are frustrated.
"To really look into ... that having halal is the implementation of sharia law and once sharia law is instated into this country it brings on more problems than we know what to do with," she said.
"A lot of people are unaware in Australia of halal practices and sharia law and it's to alert everybody ... what this certification is all about ... because this is Australia, we're not a Muslim nation."
The Baw Baw Shire Council declined to comment because it is afraid its spokesman will become the target of threats.
The chairman of the Gippsland Ethnic Communities Council, Graham Dettrick, says the community should not tolerate discriminatory and inflammatory comments.
"It's the duty of every good citizen to live with respect, tolerance, harmony and understanding with their neighbours and with the wider community, whatever their ethnic origins, cultures and religions may be," he said.
"I'd like to remind everyone that it is a policy of all political parties and the law of the land that Australia is a multicultural nation, with no whatsoever, according to race, religion, colour of skin, gender and so on and so on."
The Federation of Islamic Councils is calling for calm over the issue.
Federation vice-president Ikebal Patel acknowledges that people are concerned about the growth of halal production.
However, he says non-Muslim companies are deciding to produce for the halal market.
"It's an individual choice," he said.
"I mean [I] absolutely agree that nobody should be forced to eat or consume something that they don't want to, they're not happy with or their conscience doesn't tell them to.
"I don't think as Muslims, the blame there is not on Muslims, then that's the unfortunate thing."

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Underdeveloped: Pakistan a small player in global halal meat market

Pakistan is one of those countries in the world where climatic and other conditions support the livestock industry, but this industry lacks modernisation and is still a long way from becoming a leading player in the rapidly growing global halal food market.
In an attempt to give a boost to the industry, the government has made some efforts in the past few years, especially in Punjab, where the Punjab Agriculture and Meat Company (Pamco) has been established. However, it has yet to give desired results.
The private sector has been involved in this industry, but not aggressively because of issues like taxation, freight rates, energy crisis, etc. The industry needs modern and hygienic slaughter houses that can meet international standards for export of chilled or frozen red meat to countries where demand for halal meat is growing.
Pakistan is ranked 19th in terms of meat production with an annual output of 2.2 million tons. In the three-trillion-dollar halal product industry of the world, the meat segment is worth $600 billion. Pakistan’s share in it is only $115 million.
Meat exporters believe that this figure can be tripled with the right policies.
“The industry is in its initial stages in Pakistan, with literally 0% contribution to the global industry, we need relaxation in taxes, less interference from provincial departments and a clear policy to boost the industry,” said Nasib Ahmad Saifi, Chief Executive Officer of Anis Associates, a sister concern of Saifi Group.
The group is one of the largest exporters of meat in Punjab, whose export revenues have crossed $15 million annually.
“Rising tax rates, zero rebate, high freight charges and above all energy crisis are hitting us hard, otherwise our company has the potential to at least triple its export volume,” Saifi said.
He believed that total meat exports of the country could reach $500 million if the government started taking interest in this industry. Citing the example of India, he claimed that the neighbouring country, which is not even an Islamic state, was exporting halal meat worth $23 billion annually just by properly organising the industry.
He highlighted smuggling of live animals to Afghanistan and Iran as another problem that has been hitting the livestock market.
According to Pamco, around 2.5 million live animals worth $1.4 billion are smuggled every year, dealing a damaging blow not only to domestic meat sales, but also to exports.
Saifi stressed that if smuggling was brought under control, the export of red meat would grow and prices would also come down in the country.
This will also provide a boost to the local leather and tannin industry which will have access to high quality hides at lower cost. In fact it has been a long-standing demand of the local leather industry to limit livestock exports and to promote meat exports.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Does The GCC Ignore Halal Cosmetics?

As the cosmetics industry continues to perform strongly in the Gulf, it’s curious that halal products have not risen in conjunction with the wider beauty market. On the whole, citizens of the GCC take their appearance seriously with Arab women in particular not shy from spending their money and time on perfecting their immaculate looks.
Logically, one would assume halal products would be flying off the shelves; stores in the region would be sold out of products. But it’s not the case.
The interest in halal products is there, according to Ashley Batten, a research analyst at Euromonitor International, but the market is yet to respond.
“Muslim women in the UAE are increasingly interested in using halal cosmetics. General awareness of cosmetics ingredients and their health effects has increased in the last few years and more women are realizing that their commonly used cosmetics may contain animal products that are not halal,” Batten explains.
“However, the UAE halal-certified cosmetics market is currently very small and heavily fragmented; no major multinational cosmetics company offers halal-certified products.”
A big reason for this is the non-existence of a local halal certification body. While certification procedures for the food and beverage market are well established in the Gulf, there is no such process for personal care products.
This is due to change in 2016 when the Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology is expected to launch worldwide halal standards for fragrances and cosmetics.
But until then, the few halal products that make it into the GCC market are likely to be from Europe or North America and certified by regulatory bodies in those countries.
So do the local cosmetics companies think they’re missing a trick?
Not according to Jim Ragsdale, brand director at giant Saudi cosmetics company Mikyajy, “At the moment we honestly have not found that halal products are something that is of primary importance to our customers,” he said.
“The brand is developed primarily for Arabic women but what those women are looking for are high performance make up products first and foremost, more than specifically halal products.
“We’re looking into it [halal cosmetics], but at this point we feel it is a relatively small market that’s actively seeking out these products.”
Instead, the brand director says women of the Gulf are more concerned with products that match the quality of names more commonly found in the aspirational cities of Paris, Milan and London.
“What customers mostly want from us, and what we’re giving them, is the quality they can expect from European production,” he said. As a result, while Mikyajy’s products are developed in Dubai, the majority of production takes place on the continent.
Even with no halal focus though, the brand’s European-tinged products, bearing that certain je ne sais quoi, are reaping big rewards for the Saudi business.
Mikyajy – which in Arabic means ‘my makeup’ – is a cosmetics giant in the GCC. Existing for 14 years with over 230 stores across more than 50 cities, Ragsdale reports 20 per cent sales growth last year – the business saw 30 per cent growth the year before – spurred on by 40 new store openings.
Earlier this year it launched its e-commerce website, which has performed well so far, and is planning to revamp all its stores with a new brand concept.
It also recently employed Lebanese singer Myriam Fares as its brand ambassador – a move reserved for businesses with expansion fixed firmly on the minds of its shareholders.
So has the time come for Mikyajy to look further afield?
“Outside the GCC, we’re beginning to look at other markets, moving in concentric circles around the Gulf and other Arab parts of the world; North Africa and Levant countries,” said Ragsdale.
“But I don’t think we’ve finished expanding in the GCC yet. We are one of the most prominent brands but I still don’t think we have tapped into all the resources the region has to offer. We have very aggressive growth plans in countries across the Gulf.”
By 2016 we will know if those growth plans include halal-certified products

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Beef exporters face Halal certification hike

As Australia trade awaits confirmation of increased import quotas in Indonesia, issues surrounding halal certification and pre-slaughter stunning have underlined the ongoing challenges beef and cattle exporters continue to face in the market.

Qld exporters endure Halal certification hike
A number of beef exporters in Queensland have stopped supplying orders to Indonesia in recent weeks following the delisting by the Muslim clerical body Indonesia (MUI) of the State’s key Halal certifier Australian Halal Food Services (AHFS). Queensland packers have been told they must now use a Victorian-based Halal certifier, if they wish to continue supplying boxed beef to Indonesia.

The Victorian certifier has reportedly doubled the costs of certification to Indonesia for Queensland exporters, and has raised concerns about whether processors will now have to pay different Halal certifiers for different markets in future or whether a monopoly will exist for certification of all Halal markets.

Indonesian Halal certification is a state based system in Australia, where historically there has only been one certifier for Indonesia. The Indonesian MUI introduced a policy two years ago requiring that Australian-based Halal certifiers for Indonesia to operate within one state only.

The delisting of Queensland’s main Halal certifier on April 8 is believed to relate to internal disputes within the Muslim certifiers over the state based arrangements and opportunities for certifiers to expand their business across states.

Until this development, Queensland packers have been able to pay one certifier to handle all certification requirements for all Halal markets including Indonesia that they supply.

Certifiers are required to return some of the money they are paid by processors for Halal certification services back to their local Muslim community, such as through donations to Mosques or Islamic schools. It is understood that one of the reasons for the state-based rule was to ensure that money from certification services stays within the local muslim community.

One source explained to Beef Central that the Queensland certifier’s accreditation was delisted after it won a contract to supply Halal certification services in Victoria for a processor to cover markets outside of Indonesia. This development led to a dispute among local certification bodies about whether certifiers should operate across state boundaries, and resulted in the decision by MUI in Indonesia to remove the Queensland supplier’s accreditation and institute another certifier in Queensland.

The delisted certifier, which handles a bulk of the Halal certification work for Queensland exporters across all Halal markets, is understood to be trying to have its accreditation with Indonesia reinstated.

One of several Queensland based exporters who supply Indonesia, but asked to not to be identified, said some companies have switched certifiers to make sure their product got accepted, while others had stopped supplying Indonesia because of the costs involved.

Beef Central is aware that there have been discussions between Industry and the Federal Government around options to improve the current Indonesian certification system and to ensure competition in the market for these services.
Industry monitors audit of stunning in Indo abattoirs
Australian livestock export industry leaders say they are monitoring the situation in Indonesia after national MUI council confirmed it is conducting an audit of pre-slaughter stunning practices in Indonesian abattoirs.
Pre-slaughter stunning is deemed an acceptable practice under Halal, but must be performed appropriately to ensure an animal is not damaged or killed by the stunning bolt and remains alive at the point of slaughter.
Local MUI officials in the province of Banten neighbouring Jakarta have described stunning processes in local abattoirs as “imperfect” and have been meeting to discuss a possible ban in the province.
However, the push to ban pre-slaughter stunning does not have the support of the powerful central MUI council, which some media reports suggested yesterday.
Rather, KH Maruf Amin, national chairman of the MUI, told The Australian newspaper the national council had not issued any new fatwa on the use of stunning.
"A provincial ruling cannot contradict the central council's ruling. We will be calling on Banten MUI to explain their position," he said.
While five ESCAS accredited abattoirs are understood to be located in the province considering the pre-slaughter stunning ban, a department of agriculture spokesperson said Australian exporters had confirmed they have access in their approved supply chains to abattoirs that are not affected.
Under ESCAS rules, abattoirs that handle Australian cattle must comply with OIE standards as a minimum animal welfare requirement.
OIE welfare rules do require abattoirs to practice pre-slaughter stunning.
However, more than 90pc of ESCAS-approved  abattoirs in Indonesia have adopted the practice, largely because they are finding that stunning is not only better for welfare, but better for their bottom line.
After installing pneumatic stunning equipment in his Jakarta abattoir last year, Budiman Lakman told Beef Central that stunning had led to quieter cattle, better quality meat, happier customers, and significant time and cost savings for his business.
“I am very appreciative of the system applied for animal welfare,” he said. “I feel I get the benefit”.
Australian Livestock Export Council chief executive Alison Penfold said it was understood the national MUI council was very supportive of stunning as a Halal practice.
“We’re certainly aware of the audit, and we’re obviously monitoring the situation,” she said.
“There has been a significant increase in stunning across Indonesia, and we want to ensure that it complies with both ESCAS and Halal requirements.
“Industry will continue to work with authorities to provide any additional training, information or support that is necessary.”
Ms Penfold said Australian cattle were still required to be processed in compliance with OIE standards in Indonesia, and said that while that did not require stunning, the industry had no desire to see the strong uptake of stunning in Indonesian abattoirs reversed.
“We certainly want to work with the authorities, given the amount and significant number of facilities using stunning, which is now close to 90pc.
“We would not want to see a rollback
“This doesn’t need to be an either or proposition, we can achieve both (Halal and OIE requirements)”.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Halal salami 'pork free': Slovenian authorities

The National Veterinary Institute of the Ljubljana Veterinary Faculty analysed the salami produced by food manufacturer TMI kosaki and confirmed that it meets the requirements of Muslim dietary rules, reported news agency APA.

Sweden's National Food Agency (Livsmedelsverket) had found that Halal-labelled salami for sale in Sweden contained over 10 percent pork, which observant Muslims do not eat. It said the pork meat came from Slovenia.

"It is unacceptable that products that are labelled Halal contain pork meat," agency spokeswoman Louise Nyholm said in a statement after the agency tested 99 food products for pork DNA and found that nine tested positive.

Eight of the samples contained less than one percent pork and of those seven had less than 0.1 percent.

"There are a lot of people who absolutely do not want to eat pork meat, so it's important that companies take responsibility and verify that their products are not sold on false grounds," Nyholm said.

After the Food Agency's findings Slovenian food producer TMI kosaki presumed that the Austrian company Krainer was responsible for any pork ending up in the salami aimed at Muslim consumers.

However, the company owner Franz Krainer dismissed the accusations and said that all material used to produce the salami had come from the Slovenian company in frozen blocks.

Observant Muslims avoid pork as its consumption is prohibited by Islam.

The Islamic Halal method of killing an animal also requires its throat to be slit and the blood to be drained. The method is forbidden in Sweden because the animals are not anesthetize before slaughter.

Monday, April 22, 2013

McDonald’s Pays $700K to Detroit Muslim Community in False Halal Food Lawsuit

McDonald’s Corp. paid $700,000 to members of the Muslim community in Detroit after a franchise falsely advertised that food on its menu was prepared in accordance with Islamic law.
McDonald’s agreed to a tentative settlement in January, and it was finalized Wednesday by Wayne County Circuit Judge Kathleen Macdonald.
In September 2011, Ahmed Ahmed of Dearborn Heights said he bought a halal chicken sandwich at a nearby McDonald’s, which he found did not meet Islamic requirements for food preparation.
Much like kosher food, halal must be prepared separately from non-halal food. Allah’s name must be invoked before the slaughtering of an animal for consumption in Islamic law.
The McDonald’s in Dearborn is one of two in the area that serves a large Arab and Muslim population.
The class action lawsuit brought against McDonald’s by Ahmed and his attorney, Kassem Dakhlallah, alleged the franchise sold non-halal food “on many occasions.”
The settlement will be shared amongst Ahmed, the Arab National Museum in Dearborn, a Muslim-run health clinic in Detroit, and attorneys.
"As a firm, we've borne the burden of litigating this case for over 19 months, and have paid a steep price in time and money to do so," Dakhlallah told The Associated Press in an email. "We are happy that we are able to finalize this case and get the settlement funds paid to the Huda Clinic to be used for medical care for the community, and to the Arab American National Museum to be used to allow our young ones to continue their educations after high school."
The restaurant’s franchisee, Finley's Management, said in the settlement notice it "has a carefully designed system for preparing and serving halal such that halal chicken products are labeled, stored, refrigerated, and cooked in halal-only areas." They said employees are trained in the halal food preparation and know it "requires strict adherence to the process."
Attorney for McDonald's, Thomas McNeill, said the investigations and settlement proved that if a problem arose with their halal products, "it was isolated and rare.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Seeking Halal earning: The Spirit Of Islam

Friday, April 19, 2013 - According to Abdullah ibn Masud (RA), the Holy Prophet (PBUH) said: ‘Seeking Halal earning is a duty after the duty.’ In other words working to earn a halal living is itself a religious obligation second in importance after the primary religious obligations like prayers, fasting and hajj. This brief hadith contains three very important messages. First, it points to the Islamic way out of the apparent dichotomy between the material and the spiritual worlds. We often see them working in opposite directions. Indulgence in the material world does lead one away from the spiritual world. Spiritual uplifting seems to accompany a tendency to distance oneself from the material pleasures. There is a conflict, but is there a contradiction also?

Is it possible to resolve the conflict in a way that one can take care of both? Or are they mutually exclusive? This has been a central question for all religions and many in the past suggested the second answer, making hermits as the ideal for the humanity. Unfortunately not much humanity is left when one moves too far in this direction. One can read today the horror stories of Christian and Hindu monks, among others, who tried to seek spiritual purification this way. As a reaction, some took the other course, making material pleasures the goal of this life. The western civilization today is the prime example of that. Its toll on human spirit and morality is well known and is a constant reminder that something is wrong here as well. In between the two extremes Islam points out the proper path. Man is both a material and a spiritual being. The solution does not lie in denying the material needs and desires but in denying their claim to primacy.

They are part of being but not the reason or goal of being. As long as they are kept in place, they are an important part of our life. The problem is not money but the love of it. Wealth itself is not bad. In fact Qur’an refers to it as ‘ ... your wealth which Allah has made for you a means of support.’ [Al-Nisa, 4:5]. And another hadith praises the merits of ‘the halal wealth of a pious person.’ The effort to earn a living is not only against spirituality, it is a religious obligation! But this earning must be through halal means. This is the second message of this hadith. Our obligation is not just to make money but to make halal money. This is a broad statement that is the basis for Islamisation of a society’s economic life. Not every business idea or possible business enterprise is good for the society. And the decision regarding right and wrong here cannot be left to the so-called market forces.

Right and wrong in the economic life, as in all life, must be determined by a higher source. Shariah guides us as to the Halal and Haram business enterprises and practices, and at both individual and collective levels we must follow that guidance. At times that guidance may conflict with the prevailing practices. For example riba (interest), gambling, pornography, and liquor are haram, and no matter how attractive the financial rewards of engaging in those enterprises may seem to be, a Muslim must refrain from them. This is the economic struggle of a believer, and it is obvious why it should be carried out as a religious obligation. At the individual level the obligation is to engage is halal professions and businesses.

At the collective level the obligation is to establish a system that facilitates such individual efforts and discourages their opposite. Third, all this effort for halal earning should not eclipse our primary religious obligations. Indulgence even in a purely halal enterprise should not make us miss our Salat, or hajj, for example. This hadith may help us set our priorities right: The economic endeavour is a duty after the primary duties. And let us remember: In economics, as well as in religion, getting the priorities right is part of being right.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Japan wants Malaysian Muslim tourists, but how much are travellers willing to bend for a halal experience?

AISHA Luthfi stares into the food display case at a Starbucks counter, scrunching her face as she tries to pick out lunch. All the labels are in Japanese, and though she speaks the language well enough, she can’t quite read it yet.
But after four months of living as a student in Tokyo, there are certain realities she has come to terms with – food being the biggest one.
“You can’t live here and expect to eat halal food all the time,” says the 18-year-old from Jakarta. “It’s just not possible. You can try, but most of the time you just have to make do.”
She points to one of the sandwiches and speaks to the staff in Japanese. “Pork!” he says, pointing to a ham and egg baguette. Then he picks up the plate right next to it with what looks like a turkey and cheese croissant. “No pork!” he assures her.
Minutes later, she’s munching down and talking about what it’s been like for a Muslim girl living in Japan on her own. To be fair, she says, she comes from what many would consider a liberal family in Indonesia. So when it comes to religious requirements like halal food, she’s inclined to make the best out of a tricky situation rather than segregate herself from social groups.
“I cook at home a lot because almost everything here has pork or is meat-based, like the broth for ramen noodles,” she says. “So when I go out with friends, I just don’t eat what they’re eating and order something else. But we’re all in the same restaurant and everything’s fine – as long as I’m okay with it, they’re okay with it.”
Aisha’s approach to food is something that the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) and the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) are hoping could segue into a bigger picture as they work together to shape and promote a halal tourism campaign for Malaysians visiting Japan.
On a recent four-day “technical visit” to Tokyo, Yokohama and Sendai, 25 travel agents, along with JNTO staff, several Matta delegates and media representatives, were shown how halal-friendly Japan could be – or at least how much effort they put into it.
Amidst halal tourism presentations and tourist attraction pitches – Tokyo Skytree, Disneyland, winter strawberries in Sagae City (it’s a huge deal in Japan) – there were lunches at Indian restaurants (Khazana in Minatomirai, Yokohama), dinners at Malaysian restaurants (Rasa Malaysia Cuisine in Ginza, Tokyo), and specially prepared seafood meals at various places. All of this was to show the agents and the media that Japan is a safe place for Muslims to eat and that the local hosts are happy to respect and accommodate their needs.
But the random reactions of some agents in the group point to a deeper challenge that could come from more conservative Muslim tourists in Japan.
“What’s in this dish,” asked one agent, in his late 40s, during one meal, as he poked into a bowl of chawanmushi (egg custard). “Is that chicken at the bottom? Is it halal?”
Unable to get a straight answer, he skipped the side dish but tucked into the rest of the vegetable tempura and sashimi mains on the table. Meanwhile, another agent opened up a cup of instant porridge brought from KL.
“You can’t come into someone’s home and expect that they have to follow everything you want,” says Shen Nordin, senior manager (outbound division) for Japan Travel Bureau (JTB). “There has to be give and take, otherwise you can’t eat in any restaurant in Japan because they all serve sake – and liquor is already not halal.”
“The thing is, we need to speak to travel agents in Japan and get them to understand what halal travellers want, and at the same time, we need to inform halal travellers of what they can and cannot get,” adds Ace Altair Travel executive director Vimala Devi, who understands travellers with special needs better than most.
Her agency coordinates travel groups for the disabled.
This halal need includes visits to mosques, of which there are few and far between in Japan. According to one list of “masjid in Japan” on the Internet, there are 12 mosques in Tokyo, including the oldest mosque in Japan, the Tokyo Camii in Shibuya-ku, which doubles up as the Turkish Culture Centre in the basement. But unlike in Malaysia, mosques in Japan are more likely to be privately-run, members-only prayer halls.
“Wow, so you can’t just walk in and pray?” said one surprised agent, admiring the gorgeous architecture of the mosque.
Apparently not, but a Japanese agent could arrange for a mosque visit in advance. (And while you’re on the road, certain hotels and restaurants will try to arrange places for you to pray, which is what one restaurant in Sendai did for the agents.)
According to one Japanese news report, the Muslim population numbers just under 100,000, and most of them aren’t Japanese. In fact, it’s thought that there are fewer than 1,000 Japanese Muslims in a country of 120 million people. So it’s a major challenge to ensure halal food and places for worship even for the locals.
Inevitably, by the end of the trip, the travel agents cared a little less about how exactly halal a place was, considering there was bacon right next to the waffles on the breakfast buffet line at the hotels. But there were also clearly labelled dishes marked halal, which were obviously catered for the Malaysian group, which goes to show just how good the Japanese are at hospitality – and how much they want our business.
According to statistics presented during one talk by JTB, there were 46.3 million outbound counts from Malaysia in 2011. The top destinations were Thailand, Indonesia, China, Brunei, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia and Korea. The same research, however, stated “no proper statistics were conducted on Muslim preference for outbound destinations” but that “it’s widely known that Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Australia, Korea, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey remain popular.”
The data also claimed “for emerging desti­nations such as Japan, although Malaysians are known to favour Hokkaido, most Muslims centre about Kanto (Tokyo) and Kansai (Osaka)” and that “the upcoming AirAsia X flight to Chubu (Nagoya) sometime mid-year may also see some rise in the Muslim market.”
Shen Nordin highlighted that halal food in Japan covers Malaysian, Indonesian, northern Indian and Middle Eastern food, all of which are designated as fine dining cuisines “hence its high-selling price” and that “in contrast, Japanese food is cheaper.”
As for beverages, he told the conference “since the consumption of alcohol in Japan is high ... it is advisable that Muslim travellers understand this norm despite restaurants serving halal meals.” And as for mosques, he pointed out four facts: there are “limited number of mosques, some are restricted to members only, prior consent is required”, and it’s better to delay evening prayer times until you can get back to the hotel.
All this is vital information for halal travellers, travel agents pushing halal tourism and their Japanese counterparts, if the whole campaign is to really take off – and Japan has a lot riding on it. JNTO’s research shows that the number of Malaysian visitors to Japan has grown steadily over the last three years while tourism numbers from Singapore and Hong Kong have gradually declined.
According to JNTO manager Susan Ong, for the year ending in 2012, visitor arrivals from Malaysia to Japan set a record high of over 130,000, up almost 14% from the same period in 2010, fuelled by a growing middle class that can afford to travel and the launch of low-cost carrier routes to Japan.
The implementation of the multi-entry visa for Malaysians to Japan, since September 2012, has also affected a steady growth of visitor arrivals from Malaysia, said the statement. (A helpful hint when applying for your visa at the Embassy of Japan: be very clear with the consular staff which visas you want, and ask if you have the right forms for it.)
With so much at stake, it’s hardly surprising that JNTO and Matta have signed a memorandum of understanding on how they can make halal tourism a viable industry for both Malaysia and Japan.
“This collaboration is very timely as 2013 marks the 40th year of Asean-Japan friendship and cooperation. With the signing of MOU between JNTO and Matta, we hope to increase the number of visitors from Malaysia as Japan expects to receive one million tourists from Asean countries in 2013,” said JNTO executive director Motonari Adachi in a statement.
Matta president Dato Mohd Khalid Harun was equally effusive in his statement. “Matta hopes that with the MOU ... the travel and tourism industry will grow even faster, as we are now partners for mutual benefits.”
On their part, Japan really seems to be going for it. According to a report in The Mainichi, a halal food trade fair showcasing about 40 items of processed food, condiments and confectionary made in Japan according to Islamic guidelines was held in Fukuoka city in February, organised by the Nippon Asia Halal Association, and drawing about 20 exhibitors and 600 visitors.
One company, Inoue Spice, offered curry roux using mushroom and seaweed essence in place of beef or pork stock.
“It required a lot of effort to develop it,” company president Kazuto Inoue told The Mainichi. “But I was glad Indian and Ma­laysian guests said it was tasty.”
Another company that’s making a name for itself in halal tourism is the Miyako Kokusai travel agency based in Osaka. Company director Kazunari Kurosawa said he’d learned about halal food and worked with Japan Halal Business Association (which is approved by Malaysia’s Jakim Department of Islamic Advancement) officials to develop non-alcoholic, pork-free environments for halal visitors.
Meanwhile, JNTO has created an official halal guidebook for tourists, listing restaurants and places of worship in Japan. What’s obvious, however, is how little actual Japanese food is on the menu – the book is loaded with listings for Arabian, Iranian, Egyptian, Moroccan, Turkish, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Indian restaurants.
The book, titled Japan Travel Guide for Muslim Visitors, is being distributed to travel agents and their clients

Halal creates an opening for Thai firms in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR : Thai food makers are being urged to enter the Malaysian market to capitalise on the neighbouring country's vision of becoming a global hub for halal food.
Petch Chinabutr, director of Thailand's National Food Institute (NFI), said that despite a population of just 30 million, Malaysia has a high per-capita income compared with other countries in the 10-member Asean group, ranking only behind Singapore and Brunei.
"Furthermore, the Malaysian government has a policy to turn the country into a global hub of halal products, and the country also has established free-trade deals with many partners, especially in the European Union, so this is a good opportunity for Thai businesses to penetrate this market," he said.
His comments were made on the sidelines of the 10th Malaysia International Halal Showcase. The NFI brought 10 Thai companies to showcase their halal-certified products at the event.
Ugrid Chitcharoentham, assistant export manager of General Candy Co, the maker of Heartbeat candy, said most of General's confectionery, fruit snacks and jelly are certified halal, with two more items on the way.
General exports 70% of what it makes, half of which goes to South Africa, Dubai, Qatar, Yemen, Kuwait and Jordan. The company has begun shipping to Malaysia as well.
General makes some products especially for the Middle East markets, as some countries in the region have laws banning the use of food colouring.
Alak Pramernchamaen, director of Siamsurplus Co, has expressed interest in exporting her crispy fried salmon products to Malaysia since last year.
Under the brand SeaRun, the product is sold in 700 7-Eleven stores in the southern region of Thailand. Still, 70% of production goes to mom-and-pop stores and street vendors.
This year, the company expects to produce 200,000 packets a month, up from 100,000 a month last year, 50,000 in 2011 and 20,000 the year before.
Sarif Lohhama, manager of Budu Yiseng (Saiburi Pattani) Ltd, sends most of his instant khao yam sets to Malaysia.
Called nasi kerabu in Malaysia, khao yam consists of rice, budu fish sauce and vegetables.
The company, which has made and exported food for five years, ships 20% of its production to Malaysia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Revenue per year is 45 million baht, with 14 million baht in profit.
Last year, Malaysia was Thailand's sixth-biggest export destination and eighth-biggest import source. Exports to Malaysia totalled 33.7 billion baht, with imports reaching 14 billion baht.

Halal products granted trade body licence

Sunday, April 14, 2013 - Karachi—The Ministry of Commerce, has granted license to ‘Halal Products & Services Association of Pakistan’ (HAP) as a trade body. HAP is the ‘1st’ and only trade association in Pakistan that is officially registered and authorized to represent the Pakistani Halal products & Services sectors, and find solutions to the existing issues for promotion of Halal trade.

HAP member companies are Manufacturers, Producers, Exporters, Traders, Importers, CBs and Service providers engaged in Halal products and services business in Pakistan. HAP will cover all type of Halal Consumables (Food, Confectionery, Dairy, Agro, Ingredients, Additives, Supplements, Beverages) and Non-Consumables including, but not limited to, Pharmaceuticals, Neutraceuticals, Cosmetics, Personal care, Herbal, Soaps, Leather, Animal Feed as well as Services such as Islamic banking, Takaful, Supply Chain, Hospitality, Tourism, Food services, Certification, Testing, Consultants, Shariah Advisors, Facilitators, etc..

Halal Products & Services Association of Pakistan Mission Statement is to make Halal industry a multi billion dollar export sector in Pakistan & establish Pakistan as the Regional Halal Hub. HAP Objectives are to Protect the interests of its members & provide an effective forum for negotiations with the government agencies; Solicit maximum subsidies for its members through effective interaction with relevant authorities and institutions for Halal certification, product testing, export freight, export marketing, import duties & taxes and for setting up Halal industries; Act as an international trade portal to facilitate exporters of Halal products & services; Identify & Promote Halal sector investment opportunities in Pakistan to facilitate JVs.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Five new halal products bearing fruit

PETALING JAYA: A number of university research initiatives on halal products are beginning to bear fruit, with some of them now on the verge of breaking into the market.
Five such products were highlighted during the recent World Halal Week (WHW) 2013 for the purpose of sharing and commercialising new research findings and innovations that are worth being marketed.
Being new and literally small players in the business industry, these halal products are from various industries like pharmaceuticals, packaging clusters, food and cosmetics, and had gone through deep research works before being turned into products that can benefit the consumer.
Excellent Icon Sdn Bhd director R Sathiyamoorthy said the two-year-old company was aggressively into producing nature-friendly tapioca-based tableware products.
“Our products are edible. They are alternative products for existing plastic and polystyrene tableware products,” he said, adding that the company has a production capacity of 100,000 per month.

Sathiyamoorthy, who is also a mechanical engineer, said its products could withstand heat for up to two hours and they are “eatable”.
Moving forward, the company eyed WHW 2013 as a platform to commercialise its products as a part of its strategic plan to expand business.
International Islamic University Malaysia’s international institute for halal research and training (INHART) invented a ready-to-consume beverage called Agarwood Hydrosol.
INHART director Hamzah Mohd Salleh said the younger generation was more attracted to such healthy beverages.
Starting small, INHART is looking to engage with small and medium entrepreneurs to market its products. Reszon Diagnostics International Sdn Bhd introduced a diagnostic system for malaria, namely PlasmoNex, which is pending intellectual property (IP) patenting.
University Malaya associate professor Chua Kek Heng said PlasmoNex is a highly sensitive substance designed to detect malaria at an initial stage.
Concerning rising malaria cases, he said in 2008, 247 million malaria cases were recorded globally, with close to a million ending in death, triggering the research team to come out with the ingredient.
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia research institute team introduced its agricultural product called “CiliBangi”. The organic seed product is said to have a high resistance level against viruses with upgraded flowering and fruit maturity.
Another product highlighted at the conference was halal collagen and hydroxyapatite (HAp), an extract from fish scales, produced by Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris.
The patented invention technique is said to be economical and simple without the usage of chemicals and enzymes which yield 40% to 60% of collagen and HAp produced from the same fish scales.
All the products were nominated for a WHW 2013 award as potential halal products to be developed and commercialised.
WHW 2013, previously known as Malaysia Halal Week, aims to bring economic and wholesome benefits and services for Muslims and non-Muslims alike to establish Malaysia as a global halal referral centre.
Last year, six IPs were successfully matched and commercialised, including Beauticococa based cosmetics, an interactive courseware multimedia for umrah and haj, V-Haj and others within the food, pharmaceuticals and packaging clusters.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Press Release :Halal Research Council and KPK Agriculture University Signed Agreement

Halal Research Council and KPK Agriculture University will work together for the development of Halal Industry.



(Lahore) A Strategic Partnership agreement signing ceremony between Halal Research Council and KPK Agriculture University was held today at the office of Vice Chancellor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) Agriculture University; in which the experts from food, nutrition, livestock and other Industries were participated.
According to the agreement, Halal Research Council and KPK Agriculture University will provide joint consultation, training, research and technical assistance to each other for the promotion of Halal industry especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.  The strategic partnership agreement was signed by the Chief Executive Officer of Halal Research Council Muhummad Zubair Mughal, Professor Dr. Khan Bahadur Marwart Vice Chancellor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Agriculture University and Professor Dr. M. Subhan Qureshi – Dean Faculty of Veterinary Sciences. As per the agreement, Halal Research Council will provide international linkages and Halal Certification services to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Agriculture University in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Halal related industries. Professor Dr. Khan Bahadur Marwart Vice Chancellor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Agriculture University, addressing the agreement signing ceremony, said that nowadays distinction between Halal and Haram has become a big issue and organizations like Halal Research Council has smoothen this issue for general public through its expertise. He further added that due to this agreement between Halal Research Council and KPK Agriculture University, Halal Industry in Pakistan and particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will progress rapidly. Professor Dr. M. Subhan Qureshi Dean Faculty of Veterinary Sciences said that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has a specialty that livestock is in abundance here. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is a mountainous area, hence, meat is available in excess here relatively to dairy; and substantial amount of profit can be earned by exporting meat in the international market with Halal logo.  
Muhummad Zubair Mughal the Executive Officer of Halal Research Council said that the Halal Research Council’s agreement with KPK Agriculture University will be a milestone in the development of Halal Industry, due to which educational and training efforts along with trade and advancement in Halal sector can be further strengthened. He said that Pakistan’s Shariah values are acknowledged all over the world. If we export Halal meat, poultry, dairy, confectionary, spices and other food products from Pakistan to international market, then they will be highly recognized due to our Shariah values.  Moreover, he mentioned that Halal Research Council has started an 8-month Post Graduate Diploma to provide trainings on Halal industry internationally, so that experts from food, dairy, livestock and other related departments can enhance their capabilities and knowledge about Halal. This will help them ensure the quality standards in the concerned departments. He also informed that our diploma is acknowledged around the world and many international food and agriculture universities have shown their interests to make the topic of Halal as part of their educational syllabus.
It must be noted that Halal Research Council is a Pakistan based institution that is providing Halal Certification and Education & Training in Pakistan and many other countries.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Has halal food become just a commercial commodity?

It is easy to blindly trust the assurances of international food manufacturers that the food they're selling is 100 per cent halal. But, how do we really know whether the food we are eating is Shariah-compliant?

The halal-food industry has now become a multi-billion dollar business, and it suffers from the same wheeling and dealing as any other highly sought-after product. The industry is worth some $600 billion in the global market, and some traders are only too happy to slap a halal tag onto the products we buy. We don't really question the background of the factory producing the food item or who really owns it.

The definition of halal is 'anything that is legal or lawful for Muslims'. In terms of meat, this can apply to the kind of animal used (pork is not allowed, for instance) and the way in which they are slaughtered. The animal must be healthy. The butcher must recite a prayer, dedicating the animal to God. The jugular vein, carotid artery, and windpipe are cut with a single swipe from a sharp knife. Shariah declares that the animal should die immediately, and the blood must drain away before the meat can be prepared for consumption.

However, in the West, most animals are stunned before their throats are slit. Halal food inspectors in Europe allow butchers to stun the animal first by driving a bolt into its skull, gassing it, or electrocuting it before slaughter. Then, they label the meat halal and allow it to be sold to the market. However, the UK charity group, Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), admits that slaughtering an animal with one clean swipe of the knife is more humane than driving a bolt into the brains of these animals.

Animal-rights campaigners note that 90 per cent of all the meat served in popular fast-food outlets comes from animals that were stunned before slaughter. They also point out that most of the meat exported from Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and France are from animals killed in the same way. The RSPCA is now campaigning for these governments to include the method of slaughter on the halal label. So far, the world's meat producers have resisted the call, knowing that if the RSPCA had its way, then the halal meat they are promoting would become questionable. Why don't they simply slaughter the animal? A survey in the United Kingdom showed that half a million animals are killed every day for the meat market, and suppliers find it quicker to gas the animal, rather than slaughter it.

Beyond the West, animals are indeed being slaughtered the correct way. But a recent survey in Malaysia revealed that not all the slaughter-houses employ Muslims. In Indonesia, the canned-food industry has been criticised for allowing traces of non-halal ingredients to be mixed with popular dishes, without any mention of this on the label. 

It is not the West and unscrupulous suppliers that we should watch out for; we should worry about our children, who don't really care to ask questions. Top chefs around the world are now discovering the large appetites of young Muslims, who nod their heads at the mention of the word halal but don't really care about what is being placed on the table before them. Halal food is gourmet food; it is no longer just a special menu that meets the requirements of a religion. It is part of a global franchise that serves the palates of millions of people.  

It is a trade first, with faith running a distant second. The appeal of halal food is rapidly diverging from its original purpose. It is becoming the razzmatazz of enthusiasts, regardless of faith. It is a romance for those who want to experiment without delving into authenticity. 

It is also fast becoming an exclusive club that is stretching beyond food to halal tourism, halal hotels, and now, halal advertisements. The word alone is on the verge of becoming an expensive commodity, marketed by shrewd businesspeople who want to tap into this new industry, taking advantage of the unwitting faithful.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Moscow Halal Business Forum will pass in June 13-14 in Moscow

Moscow Halal Business Forum will bring together experts to discuss an emerging global interest in principles of Islamic economy
On June 13-14 Moscow will host the event which will bring together Halal industry players, Shariah experts and specialists in Islamic finance, academicians and government representatives. All of them will participate in Moscow Halal Business Forum, organized annually as an important part of International Moscow Halal Expo 2013.
Among the goals of the Business Forum are promotion of ethical principles in the economy, expansion of halal products market, sharing experiences in Halal certification and Islamic finance, strengthening of business relations between Russia and the Islamic world.
This year Moscow Halal Business Forumwill consistof IV MoscowHalalCongress and IV Islamic Finance and Investment Forum.
MoscowHalalCongress will raise questions of Halal standard unification, interaction with public authorities, increasing volumes of Russian exports and imports of Halal products, the industry development in Russia, CIS countries and around the world.
The composition of Islamic Finance and Investment Forum will allow participants to broaden their knowledge of Islamic financial instruments and markets in a special international seminar, which will take place on the first day, June 13. On the second day the experts will share their practical experience in the organization of Islamic businesses, discuss the challenges and prospects Islamic finance market development.
Moscow Halal Business Forum will take place on June 13-14, 2013 at All-Russia Exhibition Center, pavilion 75.