On a visit to Abu Dhabi to open a new Korea Agro-Trade Centre office, South Korea’s ambassador Kwon Hae-ryong made the announcement. “The UAE halal certification programme will be introduced in Korea,” he was quoted as having said on the UAE’s The National website. “I hope Korean agricultural produce will be popular in the UAE in the near future.”
“There is a lot of trade between the Middle East and Korea,” Kim Jae-soo, president and chief executive of the Korea Agro-Fisheries and Food Trade Corporation told The National. “There is also a demand for Korean products and it’s increasing year by year.”
Two years ago, the international Halal Development Council called for greater unification in certification standards because different standards around the world confused consumers and authorities and obstructed trade. The desert climate means the UAE imports about 90% of its food meaning opening new markets is an important priority for the governments of the region.
In May, Korea’s Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation said one of its key business items for the year was growing its halal food business. Jae-soo said the Korean food industry had neglected this market of 1.8 billion consumers.
“According to industry sources, the halal food market reached US$1.088 tr in size in 2012 and is expected to grow to US$1.626 tr by 2018,” said Jae-soo. “Last year, Korean companies’ halal food exports stood at just US$680 m. It is non-Muslim multinational food companies that are dominating the market these days. For instance, Nestle is currently producing approximately 300 halal food products in 150 or so factories around the world.”
Opening the office in Abu Dhabi was the first step in growing its halal trade, said Jae-soo, and will be a useful tool providing up-to-date news about the market and business in it and facilitating the acquisition of the certificate for Korean food exporters.
The corporation is also working on gaining export certification in Indonesia so that Korean food exporters can better penetrate the Indonesian market, home to more than 220 million Muslims.
In a further sign of the country’s commitment to growing its halal export business, in August, South Korea held its first halal trade show in Seoul, which attracted delegates from 10 countries, including the UAE, Indonesia, Turkey and Malaysia.