KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 2 (Bernama) -- The halal industry is great market to explore with two billion Muslim consumers globally and potential sales of US$2.1 trillion, said Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal.
He said the demand for halal products was very encouraging considering the big market across the globe.
Malaysia had the advantage and capabilities to drive the halal sector as the country has the experience, infrastructure and institutions to develop and nurture the industry to a higher level, he said.
"The important thing for the products is not just the certification and halal logo but we must also ensure the quality, cleanliness and benefits they give consumers in this market," he added.
He was speaking to reporters after officiating the Halal Fiesta Malaysia (Halfest), an exposition for the halal food industry, which kicked off Wednesday.
The third Halfest, which will be held for five days, offers the platform for almost 500 small and medium entrepreneurs (SMEs) to enhance their market reach in the halal sector.
It is also the medium for the SMEs to strengthen their brand development and establish their foothold in the local market before expanding into the global market.
Shafie said the initiatives to organise the exposition was in line with the government's effort to elevate the economic status of Malaysians through the development of local entrepreneurs especially from the rural areas.
"The development of business in the rural areas will not only help increase the socio-economic status of the rural population but also create job opportunities for the people in the areas," he added.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer of CIMB Islamic, Badlisyah Abdul Ghani said the bank's participation in Halfest as co-organiser not only provided it access to a wider distribution of its products but was also aimed at bringing Islamic banking and the halal industry closer together to form a holistic halal ecosystem.
"Funding is not the first thing an SME needs to get its halal business right, there are other more important things that must be put in place like good business plan, right management structure, access to good human resources and plain perseverence," he added.
Another co-organiser for Halfest, Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) said its collaboration in the event was the right move to elevate the quality of Bumiputera entrepreneurs in the halal industry to gain wider reach and exposure.
A total of 58 out of the 500 exhibitors who participated in Halfest are under MARA initiatives.
"Mara aims to seal RM3.2 million worth of sales contracts at Halfest and committed in seeing local entrepreneurs thrive in promoting their halal products and services," said Datuk Hanisah Omar, Deputy Director-General (Management Services) of MARA.
Halfest, hosted by Halal Industry Development Corporation and managed by Shapers Malaysia Sdn Bhd, is open from 10 am to 10 pm on Oct 2-6, 2013 at the Mines Exhibition Centre in Seri Kembangan, Selangor.
It targets to attract more than 70,000 visitors and garner sales worth RM30 million this year. -- BERNAMA