In the global halal marketplace, Thailand is emerging as a major supplier of a wide range of products and services deemed permissible for consumption under Islamic law. Now, it has become the 5th largest producer of Halal food.
Despite being a Muslim minority country, Thailand’s government and private sector have leveraged the country’s manufacturing, quality assurance and marketing experience and its rich culinary traditions to become one of the largest producers of Halal food. It is effectively taking advantage of a growing global appetite for halal products, according to the Department of Thai Trade Centre, MENA.
Currently, it is the world’s 12th leading global exporter of halal products and 5th largest producer of halal foods. It also ranks first for halal export among ASEAN countries. Halal food currently accounts for 20% of Thailand’s global food exports with more than 60% of halal exports going to Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei.
With a market that is expected to grow 20% annually, Thailand hopes to take a bigger slice of the pie. For 2021, the country is targeting a 3% increase in its exports – valued at $3.8 billion – to OIC countries, its second-biggest export market next to China.
Among Thailand’s notable food exports include rice, sweet corn, tapioca products, sugar, canned tuna, processed fruit and vegetable products as well as seasonings. It has also been aggressively expanding its halal portfolio with products and services in other sectors, such as cosmetics, poultry and plant-based meat, among others.
Thai Halal Initiatives
The Central Islamic Council of Thailand (CICOT) which was established under the Islamic Act is the country’s certification authority. Its main responsibility is to ensure that Thai Halal products are produced according to Islamic principles.
In a strategic move, CICOT has sought accreditation with certification authorities in Muslim countries, such as the Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology in the UAE, to ensure Thai exporters and their products meet their destination markets’ standards and regulations.
One of Thailand’s top state universities also hosts a dedicated facility that conducts halal inspection and certification processes. A world first, the Halal Science Centre Chulalongkorn University helps maintain halal standards, using the latest technologies, for all its outbound products, benefitting some 5,000 companies producing over 150,000 Made in Thailand Halal products and services.
Since detecting haram ingredients has become more sophisticated with advances in methodologies and technological innovations, the centre is a significant investment and a bold initiative on Thailand’s part. It seeks to become more competitive in producing truly authentic halal products in the coming years.
Challenges and Opportunities
Just like the rest of the world, the global halal industry has also been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. But the increasing adoption of digital platforms has somewhat mitigated the impact. It is a window of opportunity that Thailand has been quick to leverage.
Since the beginning of this year, Thailand’s Ministry of Commerce has been pushing small and medium-sized manufactures to utilise online platforms to market their products, to enable them to continue tapping existing markets or to prospect new ones that they have not previously explored.
The Federation of Thai Industries is also optimistic about the continued robustness of Thailand’s halal exports, given that more than 20,000 Thai restaurants are operating around the world, a market that halal exporters can look into as halal products are also gaining in popularity even among non-Muslims.
What Does The Future Hold For Thailand As A Major Halal Industry Player?
But as Thailand is already a popular holiday destination for Muslim travellers, halal manufacturers can look into expanding their portfolio domestically by supplying halal food and other products to local restaurants, hotels and resorts.
Innovation will be a critical factor for Thailand’s continued success and will need to encompass the whole halal industry ecosystem, from manufacturing to product development as well as logistics and marketing.
With a robust support system in place and an established reputation for certified-halal quality products, Thailand will no doubt see its halal industry rise to greater prominence and competitiveness.