Thailand, Asia’s largest food exporter, is experiencing a steady growth in halal food exports to the world’s Islamic countries, it turned out at the Halal Expo 2012 held in Phuket from September 5 to 8.
Thai halal food exports have reached a total of $6.8 billion to 57 Islamic countries in 2011. In the first seven months of 2012, exports have reached $3.9 billion, a 12.1 per cent year-on-year increase over the same period last year, Thai Deputy Commerce Minister Bhumi Saraphol told media at the event.
ASEAN secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan also attended the halal expo. Pitsuwan, who is a Muslim from the south of Thailand, said that with the advent of the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015, the region was ready to open its arms to Muslims tourists from across the globe, which will also boost the halal food industry. And Thailand would have the potential to be a leading food exporter to the Islamic world in the future.
Halal food currently accounts for 20 per cent of Thailand’s global food exports, and supply is inadequate to meet demand in the world’s growing Muslim population, said Associate Professor Winai Dahlan, director of Chulalongkorn University’s Halal Science Center in Bangkok.
Currently, the world’s biggest halal food exporter (mainly beef) is Brazil, followed by the US, China, India and Thailand.
Dahlan believes that Thailand will come third in the future, after Brazil and the US. The domestic halal food market in Thailand is growing around 20 per cent a year. Out of 30,000 food factories in Thailand, 8,000 are involved in halal food production, but only 200 factories export halal food products. He cited high logistics costs as a problem faced by Thai halal food producers, as well as certification issues.
Major markets for Thai halal food include, besides the GCC, Indonesia, Malaysia and other ASEAN countries as well as Nigeria.