Saudi Arabia’s Food and Drugs Authority (SFDA) has announced plans to launch what is claimed to be the world’s largest centre for halal food and products.
The organisation’s executive chairman, Hisham bin Saad Al Jedaie said plans for the centre came under the kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform agenda and aimed to utilise its geographical position between continents and role as the birthplace of Islam.
It will provide a reference for halal food and products and services, halal certification and research and studies in collaboration with universities and research centres.
Among the goals of the initiative are to establish the “full local commitment” of imported products to halal requirements including meat, poultry, other food items, cosmetics, medicines and medical devices.
The centre will also aim to be a “halal representative globally” through ties with local and international logistics service providers and Islamic and non-Islamic stakeholders and develop the kingdom’s halal economy while creating jobs for Saudi nationals.
“The vision of the centre is to be an Islamic leader in halal products [and] to strengthen the Islamic dimension of the Kingdom through a supervisory system and highly qualified human resources operating within the framework of Islamic Sharia, and to keep abreast of the development of the food industry,” according to the announcement.
Once established, the centre will be responsible for granting halal certificates and logos to products and establishments, training, recognition of halal certification bodies and a reference library for halal products.
No investment amount or opening date for the centre was given.
The plans may put the kingdom in competition with nearby Dubai, which is aiming to position itself as the centre of the halal market.
To date, the halal economy has been held back by the lack of a unified global standard for products, with several countries offering their own certifications.
Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre’s 2017-2018 State of the Global Islamic Economy Report, published in collaboration with Thomson Reuters, estimated Muslim spending in the food and beverage sector reached $1.24bn in 2016, with pharmaceuticals and cosmetics coming in at $83bn and $57.4bn.
Spending on halal F&B is expected to reach $1.93 trillion by 2020, pharmaceuticals $132bn and cosmetics $82bn.
The report placed Malaysia at the top of the global halal food market followed by the UAE and Saudi.