Japan's halal market a lucrative opportunity for Malaysia, says Ahmad Zahid

PETALING JAYA: Japan’s innovation and targeted marketing strategies in elevating its appeal and accessibility to halal consumers have opened up the opportunity for Malaysia to be a global leader in the halal ecosystem, says Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Although Japan has a relatively small Muslim population, the Deputy Prime Minister said the country’s halal market presents substantial opportunities for growth and collaboration.

“Malaysia’s total exports reached RM59.46bil in 2022, with halal exports to Japan alone accounting for RM3.6bil, showcasing the immense potential for bilateral trade relations in the halal sector.

“I wish to emphasise the strong bond between Malaysia and Japan, highlighted by our mutual dedication to Halal matters.

“Japan’s commendable commitment to halal integrity, as evidenced by its six halal certification bodies recognised by the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim), underscores its significant role in the global halal market,” he said in a statement on Thursday (Feb 22).

Ahmad Zahid, who was on an official visit to the land of the rising sun, expressed confidence that the high demand presents an opportunity for the country’s halal industry players to penetrate the Japanese market.

He also visited the Japan Halal Abattoir Center in Sanda Shonikuni Kosha.

Sanda Meat Centre was one of the players in the halal industry that had established a slaughter and meat processing centre in Japan.

The centre also exports premium Japanese beef, especially wagyu, obtained directly from farms across Japan with a focus on the importance of cleanliness, which was a crucial component in halal food production.

A roundtable meeting was organised by the Halal Development Corporation Berhad (HDC), an agency under the Investment, Trade and Industry Ministry, to highlight the importance of collaboration in meeting the growing demand for halal goods and services, valued at an impressive US$3 trillion (RM14.33 trillion).

As the chairman of the Malaysia Halal Development Council, Ahmad Zahid urged Japan to leverage Malaysia’s expertise and infrastructure to facilitate global reach amid challenges faced by halal products originating from non-Muslim countries.

“All important halal stakeholders are ready to assist Japan in enhancing its halal infrastructure and supply chain, thereby strengthening our bilateral trade relations.”

Ahmad Zahid also witnessed the signing of two memorandums of understanding (MoU) – one between HDC and AEON Co. (M) Berhad to promote Malaysian Halal products in Japan.

Another MoU was between HDC and Japan Halal Association (JHA) to enhance halal infrastructure and certification in Japan.

Commending Japan’s success in the halal industry, Ahmad Zahid said it was a testament to its adeptness at adaptation and compliance, and maintaining cultural authenticity while adhering to stringent halal standards.