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Chinese firms look to tap lucrative halal market

September 20, 2017

Dubai: Standing behind her stall at a Dubai exhibition centre, Dai Dong He offered passersby what looked like carefully wrapped biscuits or chocolates.

"This is dry beef, beef snacks," said Dai, general manager of Anhui Central Asia Food Co., one of eight Chinese firms from Anhui Province displaying products at Halal Expo Dubai 2017.

Dubai is hosting the show for the ninth year running, with the Gulf emirate positioning itself as a major hub for the halal industry, a booming $3 trillion market for goods and services that are permissible under Islamic law.

In recent years Chinese firms have increasingly looked to tap the market, with organisers of the two-day show, which was set to close on Tuesday, saying the Chinese halal sector is forecast to hit $1.9 trillion by 2021, an average growth rate of nine percent from its 2015 level.

Exhibitors from China said one of the keys to gaining a foothold in the market was winning the trust of consumers. "We make sure our food is halal," Dai told AFP, noting that the company buys meat from Chinese Muslims to ensure slaughtering is done according to Islamic tradition.

Nicholas Hsiu, a manager with ARA Halal Development Service Center, said the show was an opportunity to promote the company´s exports.

"We want to export to Muslim countries... We hope to introduce our products and export to the United Arab Emirates and the Middle East," he told AFP.  The company manufactures various types of halal noodles and has obtained certificates from recognised Islamic accreditation bodies in Hong Kong and elsewhere, Hsiu said. Seventy-five exhibitors from 15 countries, including Malaysia, the global leader in halal exports, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Thailand, Switzerland and others took part in the show. The industry encompasses food, beverages, fashion, cosmetics, tourism, and the $2 trillion Islamic financial industry. For food products the key is ensuring no traces of pork or alcohol, which are strictly banned by Islamic teachings. Exhibitors from Malaysia displayed a wide-range of cosmetics, beauty care products and agricultural seeds that one firm claimed "are better than Viagra".

Mountain honey processed to conform with Islamic requirements was displayed by one Pakistani firm, while exhibitors from Kazakhstan presented various types of chocolates.

Standing at a stall packed with natural cosmetics, Nur Syarifatun Nadzirah, the managing director of Gaveno Green Resources in Malaysia, said the company ensured its products comply with halal rules. "We make sure that all the ingredients are halal... We have certification" from well-established Malaysian bodies, she told AFP.