South Korean processed food companies and farmers are ramping up efforts to tap into the rapidly growing global halal market as they face tougher competition from cheaper rivals and unfavorable foreign exchange rates, Yonhap quoted industry watchers as saying Monday.
Halal food refers to food products that are prepared in a specific way according to Islamic Sharia law, which covers not only meat but also fruits and vegetables. The global halal market stands at around US$2.3 trillion, or roughly 18 percent of the total food market, with 1 in 4 people living on the planet being a Muslim.
South Korean exports of food and agrofisheries products to Muslim countries have been growing solidly as local food producers train their sights on the halal market, which is widely expected to continue to grow down the road in line with the rising Islamic population.
According to data by the farm ministry, shipments of food and agrofisheries products to Muslim countries belonging to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) moved up 5.9 percent on-year to $339 million in the January-November period. Last year, all halal food exports, including those that went to the GCC hit $860 million.
From 2010 through 2014, halal exports rose a solid 69.3 percent, which outpaced the 51.5 percent growth in farm and food exports for the country overall. Besides the GCC countries, exports to Indonesia, Malaysia and Iran have all risen significantly.
In contrast, outbound shipments of food and agrofisheries products dipped 1.2 percent on-year to $5.57 billion in the 11-month period. In 2014, Asia's fourth-largest economy exported $6.18 billion worth of food-related goods.
"Halal is promising because of its size, and the fact that it is a relatively untapped market for South Korean companies and farmers," a farm ministry official said. "Many Muslim countries are keen to buy, safe and high quality products, instead of opting for the least expensive."
In late June last year, the farm ministry announced that it hopes to push up halal food exports to $1.5 billion annually by 2017 that can give more opportunities to local farmers and food producers.