In an interview with Arabian Business, Darhim Dali Hashim, CEO of the International Halal Integrity Alliance (IHIA) pointed to the failure of Gulf’s halal governing body, the GCC Standardization Organization (GSO), to standardise the production of halal meat despite having a unified set of regulations.
“The GSO covers all six [Gulf states] but that’s only in theory,” said Darhim. “In practice they do vary even within the emirates. Even from Dubai to Sharjah there may be some issues.”
Although certifiers may never agree on a single global halal standard, he did not discount the possibility of having three halal standards based on geographical trading blocs.
“The initiatives are there to try and harmonise it. There may be a stage where there will be three standards based on the trading blocs. We may have a MENA standard, ASEAN (South East Asian Nations) standard and maybe Central Asia, Turkey standard.”
The global halal food sector is worth an estimated $560bn and halal food now accounts for 16 percent of the world food trade market. The GCC consumed $43.8bn worth of halal products in 2009, according to The Halal Journal.
Despite the sector’s rapid growth, there still remains a huge disconnect between certifiers. The biggest differences involve the stunning of animals prior to slaughter, mechanical slaughter and the use of gelatin.
“There are a lot of things going on parallel. There’s some at regional level,” he said. “I would say the Gulf has achieved it to some extent but again there are hiccups in terms of the implementation.”
The IHIA is working on behalf of the Islamic Chamber of Commerce & Industry, an organ under the OIC, to create a framework for an international halal standard. Turkey is also working on a similar set of regulations.