Brunei pioneers national halal branding

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Brunei pride: Workers replenish sample products at a booth. Picture: BT/Jefrisalas

Saturday, August 1, 2009

THE Brunei Halal brand represents the first attempt for a proper global halal brand. Marketing experts said Brunei is the first in the Muslim world to put together a national halal brand that is intended to push the commercial aspects of consumption that complies with the teachings of Syariah.

With two products emblazoned with the Brunei Halal brand logo already made public at the opening of the 4th International Halal Products Expo (IPHE), Noel Shield, the interim CEO of Ghanim International Food Corporation, said the company has got a lot more in the pipeline.

It will be a few months from now before the Brunei Halal brand actually starts hitting supermarket shelves with a project the newly-established joint-venture company expects to put together before the end of Ramadhan in September to get the brand up and running, Noel said.

"We've had a great launch, we've had a great reception, so now we've got to maintain the flow. So until we start getting the major products on supermarket shelves, then we can maintain the brand and keep it in people's minds," he told The Brunei Times following a workshop for SMEs at the IPHE held at the International Convention Centre yesterday.

When asked when the products will start hitting supermarket shelves, he said, "It will depend on the new CEO when he comes in because these are the decisions he's going to have to make. But if I have a gist I'll say by the end of this year." The new CEO is likely to be appointed as soon as this November.

To test its business model, Ghanim is currently in discussions with a major overseas retailer to help sell one of the products, although not under the Brunei Halal brand. "We're just trying to link it in with a major supermarket and see how it works out," said Noel. Ghanim, which is 50 per cent owned by Hong Kong-based logistics firm Kerry FSDA and 50 per cent owned by the government, will be targeting markets with high disposable incomes.

The United Kingdom, Europe and the Middle East are the company's initial targets.

Noel said major retailers like Tesco and Carrefour have given "tremendous feedback" on Brunei's halal agenda.

Under the brand, Ghanim is aiming to develop products ranging from snack food and confectionery, canned fruit, canned vegetables, spices and condiments, breakfast foods, energy drinks, beverages, pasta and rice products, sauces, canned seafood, Asian specialty lines, cooking oils and meat, seafood and dairy products.

Wafirah Holdings, a wholly government-owned company, is owner of the brand and grants the licence to Ghanim to manage, market and promote the brand.

Ghanim International is a joint venture between Brunei Wafirah Holdings, Brunei Global Islamic Investment and Hong Kong-based logistics firm Kerry FSDA Limited.

Recently, Hjh Normah Suria Hayati PJDSM DSU (Dr) Hj Mohd Jamil Al-Sufri, the acting director of the Agriculture Department under the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, told The Brunei Times the government is pushing for up to 100 products using the brand by June next year.

"The interest to use the brand is there ever since we embarked on this project two years ago," said Hjh Normah, adding that the interested parties come from countries like Australia, Canada and the Philippines.

Earlier news reports said groups of Australian businesses participated in discussions on the development of Brunei's national halal brand as they saw the importance of making use of the trademark to penetrate export markets.

The two products already using the brand for the purpose of the launch are prawn crackers produced by local company Marimin and an orange-flavoured drink manufactured by a Malaysian producer, Healthson Corporation.

Producers that want to use the brand are required to first acquire the Brunei halal label through the Department of Syariah Affairs' Halal Food Control Section.

The global halal industry is estimated to be at least worth US$600 billion while generous estimates put the value at US$2 trillion.

With the growing consumption of halal products, halal is no longer seen as a niche market. Experts predict that within a decade Syariah-compliant food products will account for about a third of world consumption.The Brunei Times