Recently, we had the privilege of sharing our expertise with a roomful of experts (albeit in other disciplines) at PwC’s internal training workshop. Facilitated by Export Connect, Halal Market Overview brought 4 Halal professionals together for a 1.5 hour session, including networking and a Halal lunch. Discussion covered topics from cultural to regulatory nuances, and painted a picture of the strengths, challenges and opportunities in the global Halal market today. We spoke with a sample of the guests after the forum on what they learnt and observed. Anna Trikoulis, Accountant and Manager; Elaine Cen, Accountant in Financial Service Assurance; and Sheela Shipley, an Insurance Accountant at PwC took various insights away with them.
An Important Market
For Anna, it was a search for broader commercial and cultural awareness. ‘Halal was never part of my life growing up, so it was interesting to hear other people’s experiences with it,’ she said. As a non-Muslim helping organise this event, Elaine was hoping to gain for fresh insights. ‘After this workshop,’ she shared, ‘I have a brand new understanding of what Halal really is; the process of making Halal products; and much more about the domestic and international opportunities for Halal.’ Although Muslim herself, Sheela knew there would be more to learn. ‘Even though I come from a Muslim background,’ she said, ‘I’m not well acquainted with what’s happening in Halal market trends. I believe it is important to understand more about business opportunities related to Halal markets,’ she said. ‘I’m not only seeking knowledge, but connections – to meet those working in Halal markets and hear their experiences firsthand. It’s the most powerful way to learn.’
Halal Regulation: At Home and Abroad
‘The difference between regulation for our domestic market and export markets is striking,’ Anna told us. I feel relieved to know that all our Halal exports are strictly regulated, and because of this certification is genuine.’ she said. ‘However, I had no idea that the domestic Halal market is more loosely regulated.’
Leaders in the industry, such as Ahmed Fettylah, are advocating for the need to regulate the domestic Halal industry to the same level required for exporting to international markets; a fact that provides reason to remain optimistic for Sheela. ‘There are of course challenges in transforming business practices to ensure that Halal products are compliant, especially in a local context’ she said. ‘But it was interesting to learn how the supply of Halal foods globally works.’
Knowledge is Parity
The attendees agreed that their increased knowledge would help them connect both personally and professionally with those from Muslim backgrounds. ‘I will build on this experience in my interactions with my clients and colleagues,’ said Elaine. ‘I am excited to see more and more initiatives geared towards raising awareness of Islam,’ she said. ‘Because I know all about the negative media directed at it, and the lack of awareness. For this reason alone, this initiative is truly amazing, and I hope to see more like it in future.’ Anna saw that the Halal market has the potential to be an area of focus in her work. ‘If any of my clients are in the food or pharmaceuticals industry,’ she said, ‘I can now raise meaningful discussion around Halal opportunities and challenges for international and domestic markets.’
Gaining a broader appreciation of the Halal market, its regulations, and the lunch we were served, audience members agreed there is comfort in knowing the food on your plate is genuine – it makes it that much more delicious.
If you’d like to learn more about the Halal market, or learn about our export capability-building programs, reach out. We have strong connections to the region and keep those connections fresh by regularly travelling to relevant markets.