Malaysia eyes 2020 Olympic Games to boost halal exports to Japan

Malaysia hopes to ride on next year's Olympic Games in Tokyo to boost its food exports to Japan. (Shutterstock photo)
Updated 26 January 2019
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Malaysia eyes 2020 Olympic Games to boost halal exports to Japan

  • A three-day exhibition was launched in Kuala Lumpur last week to secure contracts to supply halal products for the games next year
  • Though a Muslim-majority nation, Malaysia lags behind Buddhist-majority Thailand as Southeast Asia’s largest halal exporter

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is targeting the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo as an opportunity to increase its exports of halal food to the global market.

On Thursday, a three-day exhibition titled “Malaysia to Japan for 2020 Olympics” was launched in Kuala Lumpur to secure contracts worth up to $300 million supplying halal products for the games next year.

Keith Wong, a member of the Tokyo Olympics Halal Food Standards Committee, told Arab News: “Malaysia sees the Olympic Games as the stepping stone to the global market. Japan is not just one of the largest markets in the world, but also represents quality. Many companies want to be associated with that.”

More than 300 local businesses will display halal-certified food products and services, from adapted Japanese dishes to cosmetics and health products. Islamic financial service providers and transportation firms specializing in maintaining halal standards through supply chains also attended the event.

International demand for halal produce has grown exponentially in recent years, due not only to increasing demand from expanding Muslim populations, but also non-Muslim consumers of high-quality products, reassured by the standards halal goods must meet.

Wong said that, though the Muslim population in Japan is small, the Tokyo Olympics could see 5 million Muslim tourists visit the country. 

However, for any effort to expand in Japan to succeed, it was important for halal producers to see the Olympics not as a one-off opportunity, but a chance to break new ground for the long-term.

“If you want to go in, you have to meet Japanese standards,” he said. “The Japanese love curry from Nepal and Bangladesh, and never think of it as ‘halal curry.’ Why can’t Malaysian food be the same?”

Though a Muslim-majority nation, Malaysia lags behind Buddhist-majority Thailand as Southeast Asia’s largest halal exporter. This, Wong believes, is because of Bangkok’s more successful export strategy, that Malaysia has yet to emulate.

“Thailand trains its chefs well, and sends them all over the world. As a result, Thai food is very popular. Malaysia’s export strategy is too vague and not yet detailed enough,” he said.

The Malaysian government, though, hope the exhibition, also attended by large Japanese firms such as Take-One Co. Ltd., which operates FamilyMart, Ohga Pharmacy and Hayabusa International, could generate $12 million in sales over the three-day session.

 


Britain ‘almost certain’ Iran was behind tanker attacks: FM Hunt

Updated 52 sec ago
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Britain ‘almost certain’ Iran was behind tanker attacks: FM Hunt

  • “We have done our own intelligence assessment and the phrase we used is almost certain,” Hunt said
  • He also said they are urging all side to de-escalate

LONDON: Foreign minister Jeremy Hunt said on Sunday Britain is “almost certain” Iran was behind attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, adding that London did not believe anyone else could have done it.
On Saturday, Iran summoned the British ambassador to Tehran after London blamed it for the attacks, the semi-official Students News Agency ISNA reported.
Asked whether Iran was behind the attacks on the tankers, Hunt told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show: “We have done our own intelligence assessment and the phrase we used is almost certain ... We don’t believe anyone else could have done this.”
“We are urging all sides to de-escalate.”