3 Jul 2012

Halal economy offers 'huge' opportunities

6:55 am on 3 July 2012

New Zealand firms are being warned they will miss out on trade in the $2.3 trillion Halal economy unless they grab opportunities outside the food sector.

The New Zealand Asia Institute says food exports are only part of the picture, but other sectors that could take advantage of the Halal economy range from finance and travel to furniture making.

It says the Halal economy is growing at a rate of 20% each year and New Zealand firms should be tapping into under-utilised Halal markets including Malaysia, Indonesia and Kazakhstan.

Tony Egan, whose Hamilton firm Greenlea Meats has been exporting Halal meat for 18 years, says the meat industry is already tapping into the market but the potential is huge.

"There's 23% of the world's population which is Muslim, that's about 1.6 billion people, that's a huge and, at times untapped, customer base that could benefit New Zealand hugely."

Mr Egan says New Zealand is ahead of other countries such as Australia because it has a centralised Halal standard.

He says requirements such as the strict separation of product, training of slaughter men in Halal techniques, animal welfare and hygiene gives Muslim customers peace of mind.

Mr Egan says New Zealand is working with Malaysia in harmonising the Halal standard so that it can be accepted by all Muslim countries.

He will be speaking at next month's first Asia Dialogue conference being hosted by the New Zealand Asia Institute, which is part of Auckland University.