Malaysia: Sustainability becomes more important for halal fair Mihas

Dato’ Wan Latiff Wan Musa, CEO Matrade. (Photo: Kemal Calik)

Next year the worldwide important Halal fair Mihas starts in Kuala Lumpur again. Not only will it be bigger, the topic of sustainability will also become more important.

“We had more than 1,000 exhibitors from 44 countries at Mihas this year,” said Wan Latiff Wan Musa, CEO of the Malaysian foreign trade promotion agency Matrade, to HALAL-WELT at the Malaysian Investment Forum in Stuttgart, Germany. In the coming year, not only the exhibition space will increase, the number of participating countries will also rise to more than 50. The number of participating buyers is also expected to double from 200 to 400.

According to the Matrade boss, sustainability will be an important topic at the trade fair alongside Industry 4.0. A jury will award the most sustainable and high-quality halal products at the fair. There will also be debates on sustainability at the World Halal Conference, which will take place parallel to Mihas.

What are Malaysia’s strengths in the global Halal business? “Malaysia has the most comprehensive halal ecosystem in the world,” said Wan Latiff. For example, the Asian country has authorities for Islamic banking, halal certification, infrastructure, logistics and marketing that work closely together. In addition, Malaysia adopted an industry master plan several years ago to rapidly drive the development of halal business.

98 percent of Malaysian companies are SMEs

“98 percent of Malaysian companies are SMEs,” reported the top manager. Around 300,000 of these companies have the capacity to participate in export business. Matrade is creating a market for these SMEs. They could show their products at international food fairs such as Gulfood, Foodex, Sial, Anuga, Fine Food Australia. In addition, the promotion agency would offer training, advice on financing issues or support with halal certification.

European countries currently export more products to Malaysia than they import. What are the reasons for this? “We mainly process food and need raw materials from abroad, such as onions and soybeans,” explains Wan Latiff. These end products would then be exported or offered in the country.

Germany is a focus market for Malaysia. The first step is to sell the country’s halal products in ethnic supermarkets. The Matrade boss: “Many Muslims in Germany come from the Middle East and Asia, for example Indonesia or Malaysia.” After that, the products should also be on the shelves of German mainstream supermarkets. “Halal is not only something for Muslims,” said Wan Latiff. There are strict rules for food safety and hygiene, which have to be observed during halal production. Therefore, halal foods are also suitable for non-Muslim consumers.

Mihas 2020 will take place from 1 to 4 April in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.