HCM CITY — With nearly two billion Muslims worldwide and demand for Halal products being worth around US$2.3 trillion annually, there is potentially a huge market for Vietnamese firms to exploit, experts have said.
According to the Việt Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), the global Halal industry is forecast to be worth $3.6 trillion by 2021, with food and drink accounting for $2 trillion.
Halal refers to any action or behavior that is permissible in Islam and requires animals to be slaughtered in a particular way and after prayer.
Muslim countries with large demand are the UAE, Kuwait, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
The UAE is the second largest economy in the Middle East, a regional commercial and financial center and the third largest transshipment hub and re-export center globally.
It has a huge demand for various products, with its imports being worth $265 billion last year.
Kuwait also needs to import all sorts of goods because of its unfavorable conditions in terms of land and workers.
But so far, the market share of Vietnamese products in these countries remains modest.
For instance, Việt Nam’s share of the UAE’s imports last year was less than 2 percent at $5 billion.
According to experts, demand in the market is increasing, offering Vietnamese firms a great chance to boost exports of products such as tea, coffee, dried and canned fruits, canned drinks, and charcoal.
Their exports to Kuwait are worth only $70-75 million out of a total of $30 billion.
Nguyễn Thị Ngọc Hằng, head of the marketing division at the Halal Certification Agency in Việt Nam, said this market does not have technical and tariff barriers like the US or EU but requires strict Halal standards.
Trần Phan Tế, general director of Lai Phú Joint Stock Company which has exported products to Muslim markets in the Middle East, said to obtain Halal certification, companies must undergo a food processing procedures audit.
Hằng said many businesses only know that Halal products are those not tainted by pork but do not know they must also meet other requirements.
Since there are very few Muslims in Việt Nam, local companies are still not familiar with Halal standards, which are different in each country, complicating the issue somewhat, she said.
But she and many other experts encouraged Vietnamese businesses to understand Halal requirements to step up exports to Muslim countries.