Thousands of jobs could be created in KwaZulu-Natal through the manufacturing niche of Halal products, which are in high demand both in the African and global markets.
This emerged at the three-day engagement currently being hosted by Trade and Investment KwaZulu-Natal, in collaboration with The United World Halal Development (UWHD), in Durban.
Delegates at the indaba, which concludes on Thursday, have been engaging on how South Africa could participate in the Halal food and pharmaceuticals market.
KZN MEC for Economic Development Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA), Ravi Pillay, said South African manufacturers did not have to limit their participation in the Muslim market by thinking that they had to be followers of Islam.
He said at least 12 000 jobs have already been created in KZN by taking advantage of the growing Muslim and non-Muslim markets for Halal products.
“You don’t have to be Muslim, but [you] need to learn what it takes to be able to qualify to supply the Halal market.”
He added that 55 to 60% of the KZN economy is located in eThekwini and as such this area is best positioned to effectively meet the growing demand of this market. His department is already in discussions with various international and SA-based companies to explore ways of utilising the provincial harbour and existing infrastructure to meet the growing demand of the Halal market.
Strong partnership needed
“The opportunity won’t be taken for granted but needs to be nourished. As South Africans we have the capabilities to make and complete any product requirements of the Halal market. However, this cannot be done in isolation and as such requires strong partnership to be able to effectively deliver on the key requirements,” Pillay said.
The president of the Minara Chamber of Commerce and pharmacist, Solly Suleman, said Halal-based pharmaceuticals represent 20% of the global pharmaceuticals market, resulting in great opportunities for companies wanting to enter this market.
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“Halal certified pharmaceutical products contain ingredients that are clean. The requirement is that all ingredients used must be traceable and must not contain animal products or alcohol. Although this is based on Halal processes, non-Muslims can benefit from the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals because of the strict Halal principles.
“If South Africa decides to incorporate Halal principles in pharmaceuticals for medicines and vaccines manufacture, it would make it more competitive globally. But for this to be a reality, there must be a willingness and support by the government,” said Suleman.
Aligned to vegetarian diets
Ela Gandhi, the grandchild of human rights activist Mahatma Gandhi, said three years ago she was approached as a vegetarian by one of the organisers to consider Halal principles as part of her diet. She said the nutrition, social responsibility and equity principles of Halal practices were aligned to her vegetarian practices.
“Covid-19 has taught us the importance of nutrition to fight diseases. The other pillar that was appealing for me was how Halal placed the importance of social responsibility being part and parcel of the production of nutritional foods where the manufacturer has to take into account that they are part of a social good that should benefit all.”
Mohammed Jinna, the chairperson of the United World Halal Development, said the Halal industry has grown to $6,3 trillion (R92,97 trillion) and there was a huge demand for them in SA.
He said they were working on bringing the right investors to invest in this growing market, adding that Halal was no longer traditional. “Halal is not only for Muslims, but mankind …