Turkey seeks to become key player in halal food sector

Turkey seeks to become key player in halal food sector

ISTANBUL – Anadolu Agency
Turkey seeks to become key player in halal food sector

Turkey can become a key player in the global market for halal products - goods made according to Muslim standards - if the country adjusts its food legislation, the head of a leading local business association has said.

“We believe that when the issue of legislation - a major problem in the halal food sector - is solved, our country will become a key actor in the global halal market,” Anatolian Businessmen’s Association (ASKON) head Hasan Ali Cesur told the 9th Halal and Tayyib Products Conference in Istanbul on Oct. 23.

The halal food market in Turkey is currently worth $6 billion annually, but this figure could rise to $15-20 billion within a decade, he said, predicting thawt Turkey will catch up with Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, current leaders in the global halal food market.

“Halal production should be treated as a responsibility, not a commercial concern. Because it is our responsibility to Allah to make the food we eat clean,” said Ali Saleh al-Omair, Kuwait’s former oil minister, addressing the conference.

Through such conferences, participants can present work on halal food to Muslims around the world, said Hüseyin Kami Büyüközer, head of the Association for the Inspection and Certification of Food and Supplies (GIMDES), a halal trade group.

Büyüközer stressed that the conference is not solely concerned with increasing profits.

Halal products are available in a variety of areas, from food to cosmetics and cleaning products, Trade Union of Agriculture and Forest Civil Servants Association head Günay Kaya said.

“Our sensitivity to halal [permissible] and haram [forbidden] is not only a problem for Turks, Arabs or any single nation, but for the entire Islamic world. Because we are one ummah [community],” said Sheikh Thafier Najjaar, head of the Islamic Council of South Africa.

According to Dr. Hani al-Mazeedi from the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, a halal way of eating can be achieved through strict practices.

“Alternative halal products for haram products can be produced. Muslim consumers should not fully trust the way halal is understood by official auditing institutions. They must trust themselves,” al-Mazeedi said.

“Muslim scholars should provide an opinion on halal and haram issues. Accreditation agencies should focus not only on the requirements of quality management systems, but also on the law,” he added.

Representatives from 44 countries are attending the two-day conference.

On Oct. 11 Turkey’s government submitted a bill to parliament for establishing a halal accreditation agency. Under the bill, the agency will have the sole authority for halal product certification and accreditation in Turkey. It will also be able to establish offices abroad.

The global trade in halal products and services is valued at around $3.9 trillion.