More halal-accredited firms, but PH still not ready

By: Vanessa Claire Lucero March 28,2016 - 09:17 PM

THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) expects an increase in halal-accredited companies and halal-certified products in the country.

Albino Ganchero, assistant division chief for Food and Agri-Marine division of the DTI – Export Marketing Bureau, said over 500 companies became halal-accredited in 2014 alone.

But the country is not yet completely halal-ready, Ganchero said.

From the Islamic tourist hotspots identified by the Department of Tourism, including Tagaytay, Laguna and Boracay, only few have halal facilities.

This would ultimately make it harder for Islamic tourists to enjoy their stay in the country.

Ganchero said halal facilities can be more easily developed in cities like Cebu and Davao if given a little bit more focus by establishments.

“Cebu’s hotels, resorts and restaurants group should look at the influx of Islamic tourists. Aside from food, rooms in hotels should have a Qibla locator, or the direction pointing to where Mecca is,” he said.

For exporters and domestic suppliers and businesses that want to tap into the halal market, Ganchero said the biggest challenge remains to be the cost of certification and of turning kitchens, operation processes, establishments “halal-safe.”

“There’s a need for laboratory analysis, and then once you should have the laboratory analysis, you should have people who can check on the validity, and all the costs are shouldered by the company,” Ganchero said.

Apart from the cost, another great challenge for exporters would be the United Arab Emirates (UAE) market.

“They (UAE) want that for all imported food products, the UAE Islamic Standards and Metrology Authority should be the one to accredit the companies, not our own,” Ganchero said.

In effect, this becomes more expensive for exporters as they have to send their products outside the country for testing.

Because of political feuds, several of the private-certifying bodies in the Philippines are not recognized by the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), which poses another hurdle for those seeking halal accreditation.

At present, there are only five halal-certifying bodies in the Philippines, none of which are in Cebu. These include the Islamic Da’wah Council of the Philippines (IDCP), Halal International Chamber of Commerce and Industries of the Philippines, Inc. (HICCIP), and the Mindanao Halal Authority (MINHA).

“With the certification, you can already export to Islamic countries. If the product is not halal-certified, the Islamic countries usually just hide the products. They never make it to store front,” Ganchero said.

He said Philippine halal exporters are already exporting to countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), namely Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE.

Indonesia is also a “significant export market” for the exporters in terms food and cosmetics, said Ganchero. But other possible markets, like Malaysia, are also being explored.

In a press statement, EMB said that the halal market will become a 10 trillion USD market by 2030, making it “one of the fastest growing segments in the world.”

“It is growing fast, and we should be able to have a share in this,” Ganchero said.

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