South Africa has one of the continent’s smallest Muslim populations — between 1.5 and 3 percent, depending on who you ask — but has become one of the five largest producers of halal products worldwide, Africa Newsroom reported.
The halal industry is worth almost $3.3 billion in South Africa, according to Independent Online.
Growing Muslim populations are pushing the demand for halal products, according to market research collector ResearchMoz.
Muslims represent 1.5 percent of South Africans, population 5.98 million, according to the South Africa Demographics Profile 2016, IndexMundi.com reported.
East African countries with higher Muslim populations than South Africa hope to benefit from its experience growing the halal economy at an upcoming Islamic Economy Summit scheduled for April 11 and April 12 in Nairobi.
East Africa’s halal economy is a lucrative but invisible market, summit organizer GBS Africa said in a press release:
Sub-Saharan Africa regional spend on halal food was about $114 billion in 2013 based on Thomson Reuters data. Emphasis has been mainly on halal meats and meat products, but over the past few years, the trend has been shifting to the introduction of halal franchises, prepared meals, canned, frozen and instant foods.
South Africa has emerged as one of the five largest producers of halal products worldwide largely due to its access to the rest of the continent and its highly advanced halal certification programs, GBS said. About 60 percent of all products in South African retail stores are certified halal. The industry is worth about $71.7 million, according to Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation.
The development of South Africa’s strong halal certification has a lot to do with apartheid in the second half of the last century, said Peter Shaw Smith in a Gulf Business report.
Under apartheid, Muslims – like Indians, blacks and whites – were confined to live in special areas and not allowed to trade or marry outside the community. This was a major form of oppression.
Since cultural characteristics were guarded and not assimilated into local culture, the Muslim identity grew strong in South Africa, leading to huge efforts in social and political progress, Smith said. South Africa has 700 mosques and 600 educational institutions. Some private Muslim schools are secular. The country has several Islamic financiers in the country.
Halal certification was introduced to South Africa in the early 1960s when almost everything was cooked or prepared at home, from baking to slaughtering chickens. There was limited oversight.
After the African National Congress took over as the ruling party in 1994, a huge amount of halal products began to be imported.
Deregulation of the meat industry meant that “we had to develop national infrastructure to deal with the complexities of supply chain,” said Moulana MS Navlakhi, theological director of the South African National Halaal Authority.
There was a lack of uniformity in inspections, the system was inadequate and there was no control over halal imports. “The industry didn’t really understand what halal entailed,” he said.
Today there are strict rules for halal meat production. Halal meat involves complete removal of blood. Conservative principles extend beyond the meat industry to the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries. Every facet of the consumables industry is covered, Smith said:
Today, incredibly, around 60 percent of all products on display at outlets in South Africa are halal certified. Despite Muslims forming only 2 percent of the population, this huge percentage of halal products is due to the large quantity of exports to the north of the continent, much of which is Muslim, and the fact that South African traders make up around 50 percent of the continent’s fast moving consumer goods sector — 35 percent of these are Muslim.
The South African National Halaal Authority has helped other African countries set up halal certification including Zambia, Namibia, Botswana and Mozambique. The total value of the halal industry in 2012 exceeded $2 trillion a year including Islamic finance, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, logistics and fashion, Gulf Business reported.
Rotterdam became the first port in the world to embrace the halal logistics concept, and established a separate section for halal logistics at its port, Navlakhi said.
South Africa’s work over the decades is now paying off. Halal is becoming a holistic concept.
Some of the world’s top halal product exporters include Brazil, U.S. Australia, and New Zealand, according to Halal Times.
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