Unified certification standards are crucial to tap into the astounding potential of the international halal food market and go beyond its projected growth of $1.6 trillion by 2020, halal food industry leaders have said.

Farah Al Zarooni, Advisor at the International Halal Accreditation Forum (IHAF), while addressing the 2nd China-UAE Islamic Banking and Finance Conference in Shenzhen, China, said: “Developing credibility of halal food products and fragmented marketplace are the biggest challenges to the growth of this industry, in spite of its tremendous growth potential and over 16 per cent share. Worldwide, the health benefits of halal food are generating a wide interest worldwide from Muslim as well was non-Muslim population. We must address these challenges to facilitate international halal food trade and create a halal food market that consumers can trust, for which having credible and uniform accreditation practices is a must.”

The two-day conference explored international cooperation in support of China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’, a $1 trillion initiative which aims to connect 65 countries spanning the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Europe by land and by sea for trade and investment. This initiative is expected to accelerate the growth of global halal consumption, as halal products become cheaper to produce and transport overland.

Mohammed Saleh Badri, Secretary General of IHAF, said: “IHAF is driven by its mission of creating a strong global halal market, harmonizing halal accreditation practices in various countries, and encouraging the ease of flow of halal products between countries as well as the facilitation of international halal trade.”

“Multiple criteria for halal products, as is being done in most cases presently, inadvertently forms trade barriers. Harmonizing halal accreditation practices is the key to remove these trade barriers and create a sustainable, strong, and reliable global halal market,” Badri added.

IHAF facilitates mutual recognition between member accreditation bodies to enhance international trade in the field of halal. By streamlining the accreditation, certification and monitoring processes, IHAF also facilitates cost-effective halal system; thus producing cheaper halal goods and promotes accessibility to global markets for halal-related firms, Zarooni explained.

“The conference complements the successful cooperation between the UAE and China by exploring opportunities for harnessing the potential of halal food market,” Badri said.

With its 26 million Muslim population, China has a strong and flourishing domestic halal industry and continues with efforts to strengthen the halal ecosystem in the country, and is keen on widening its global presence.

“China has about 0.1 per cent share in the $415 billion global halal market and is taking active initiatives to increase its share. Further, gaining credibility in the global halal food market is crucial for China to increase its presence. A credible halal food certification is vital for China to develop trust in these products on a global level and tap into the fast-growing demand for global halal food market, which will cross $1.7 trillion by 2021,” Badri added.