RIYADH – Saudi Arabia’s Food and Drugs Authority (SFDA) has announced plans to launch what is claimed to be the world’s largest center for halal food and products.
“The vision of the center is to be an Islamic leader in halal products [and] to strengthen the Islamic dimension of the Kingdom through a supervisory system and highly qualified human resources operating within the framework of Islamic Shari`ah, and to keep abreast of the development of the food industry,” according to the announcement cited by Gulf Business on Wednesday, July 25.
The organization’s executive chairman, Hisham bin Saad Al Jedaie said plans for the center came under the kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform agenda.
Among the goals of the initiative are to establish the “full local commitment” of imported products to halal requirements including meat, poultry, other food items, cosmetics, medicines and medical devices.
The center will also aim to be a “halal representative globally” through ties with local and international logistics service providers and Islamic and non-Islamic stakeholders and develop the kingdom’s halal economy while creating jobs for Saudi nationals.
Halal is an Arabic word that means “permissible.” The term is commonly used for meat, but it also applies to other food products, cosmetics, personal care products and pharmaceuticals which mustn’t be derived from non-halal sources like pork.
Halal also applies to any other consumed and edible materials which mustn’t be harmful to human health. For example, Islam considers wines, alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, E-cigs, hookah and other unhealthy things to be non-halal.
For something to be considered halal, the animal from which it came from must be well-treated, raised in a humane and healthy way, and slaughtered according to Shari’ah for hygiene reasons.
Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre’s 2017-2018 State of the Global Islamic Economy Report, published in collaboration with Thomson Reuters, estimated Muslim spending in the food and beverage sector reached $1.24bn in 2016, with pharmaceuticals and cosmetics coming in at $83bn and $57.4bn.
Spending on halal F&B is expected to reach $1.93 trillion by 2020, pharmaceuticals $132bn and cosmetics $82bn.
The report placed Malaysia at the top of the global halal food market followed by the UAE and Saudi.