New global hub to help scale up halal food exports

A hub to help firms get a slice of the global halal food market is being set up here, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam last night.

Speaking at a charity gala dinner held by the Singapore Malay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SMCCI) to celebrate its 60th anniversary, he said the hub would allow companies to share resources for product development, production and distribution.

He noted that the hub, which is being backed by SMCCI along with Spring Singapore and International Enterprise Singapore, would identify food firms that are keen to scale up their halal exports.

Industrial space landlord JTC would identify suitable sites for the facility, he added.

He urged local firms to look into the "untapped potential" in the "internationalisation of local food products", particularly in the global halal food market, which is valued at more than US$1.1 trillion (S$1.4 trillion).

"Singapore companies are well positioned to play a bigger role in this market, given the trust in the quality of Singapore-made products and our Majis Ugama Islam Singapura (MUIS) certification," he said.

Singapore's multicultural background could also help bridge the need for halal products among Muslim communities and tourists in markets such as Japan, South Korea, Africa, China and Taiwan, he pointed out.

SMCCI president Zahidi Abdul Rahman also addressed the gathering of about 500 people, noting the economic contribution made by micro-enterprises, which he defined as those with an annual turnover of less than $5 million and employing fewer than 20 staff.

He said these firms make up 70 per cent of SMCCI's members, noting: "We might be small but, together, as a business community, we contribute a sizeable amount."

These businesses, he said, can be likened to chilli padi, which might not look like much, but can "pack quite a punch".

He cited the potential in Malay Muslim weddings. Around 4,800 Malay Muslim couples get married every year, creating an industry worth at least $58 million, with "opportunity aplenty".

Last night's event also allowed the chamber to confer its inaugural entrepreneur awards.

Ms Samsiah Suliman was named Woman Entrepreneur of the Year. Her company, Jumain Sataysfaction, sells satay products overseas in markets such as Hong Kong, Canada and the United Arab Emirates.

Captain Gibbrael Isaak clinched the Entreneur of the Year award. His firm, Aero Speed Aviation, provides a one-stop service for freight import and export. Its turnover came to $28 million last year.

Mr Shamir Rahim became Young Entrepreneur of The Year for his tech start-up, VersaFleet, a logistics management platform.

Mustafa Centre founder Mustaq Ahmad was named Honorary Entrepreneur of the Year.

This article was first published on October 22, 2016.
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