Marat Akhmetov: ''It is not so easy to promote Halal brand, to be a Muslim — not enough''

The market share of Halal products in Tatarstan is increasing insignificantly due to a low purchasing power of the population

Marat Akhmetov: ''It is not so easy to promote Halal brand, to be a Muslim — not enough'' Photo: Maksim Platonov

The international conference of Halal industry opened in Kazan at the site of KazanSummit. The correspondent of Realnoe Vremya witnessed the discussions of halalness of shrimps and cheese and discussed with Minister of Agriculture of the Republic of Tatarstan Marat Akhmetov the difficulties that hinder the regional products to enter the international market.

Want a shrimp?

The tone of the international conference of Halal industry, which opened in the framework of KazanSummit 2017, was set by the mufti of Tatarstan Kamil khazrat Samigullin. He let the participants know that he had profound knowledge in this issue straight away.

Explaining various theological interpretations, the mufti said that now special committees are being created to discuss whether rennet (extracted from the stomachs of calves) is allowed for use. It is used in manufacture of cheese. Now it is being considered what the Shafi'i madhhab and the Hanafi madhhab think about that.

''For example, for us, Hanafis, if the rennet element is not from pork, and no matter how the animal was slaughtered as in the stomach there is no blood, it is clean. For Shafi'i brothers, if the animal is slaughtered not correctly, then the cheese is forbidden. We need to take this into account,'' cited an example the mufti of Tatarstan.

Another example concerned much-loved by Tatarstan ''VIPs'' and government officials shrimps. ''For example, in the Hanafi mashaba, shrimps are not welcomed, and the Shafi'i madhhab look at them very positively. Given all this, we need to create some standards so everything was easy and convenient.''

The tone of the international conference of Halal industry, which opened in the framework of KazanSummit, was set by Kamil khazrat Samigullin

The third example referred to the methods to slaughter animals. Hanafis do not admit the mechanical slaughter, in the result of which even Halal chicken in Tatarstan is slaughtered using the hand method. Problems arise with imported meat, as it has to be checked, and due to the fact that in the Republic we are not aware of the standards of a supplier, they have to check it out.

Halal globalists

UAE Minister Rashid Ahmad Muhammad Bin Fahad, in his turn, noted the necessity to create a Halal global sector of economy. In the Emirates, Halal sector is successfully developing in the framework of the government strategy, and the Halal production in the UAE is more than 30% of the total production. In 2016, the volume of Halal production has reached $25 billion, more than 70% was exported to neighbouring countries. By the way, Dubai is planning to invest in the Halal industry more than $250 billion.

The speaker of Tatarstan Farid Mukhametshin in his welcome speech proved himself to be also a specialist in this matter. He said that the global market of Halal products and services in the current year is estimated at $2,1 trillion, 1,2 trillion of which is accounted for the food industry. By 2025, its share among all produced products can be no less than 20%. Chairman of Tatarstan State Council noted the fact that the rigid requirements for Halal products quality create the demand for it among people of other faiths and supporters of healthy lifestyle as well.

''Visible competitive advantages of the Republic of Tatarstan, in our opinion, are the powerful agro-industrial complex, the developed processing cluster, the established infrastructure of control and certification of Halal products,'' said Farid Mukhametshin.

The rigid requirements for Halal products quality create the demand for it among people of other faiths and supporters of healthy lifestyle as well

He said that in 2016 the volume of agricultural production in the Republic amounted to 238,6 billion rubles ($4.2 billion) – it is the third place among all subjects of the Russian Federation. Besides, Tatarstan is the first in Russia by milk production, the fourth — by meat, and the ninth — by grains.

''It is very difficult to enter the global market''

Tatarstan Minister of Agriculture Marat Akhmetov gave journalists the details about the Halal products market in Tatarstan. So, about 30 regional companies have the experience of export of Halal products by 18 items.

Answering to the question of Realnoe Vremya, Akhmetov said that at the moment only a few companies from Tatarstan export Halal goods abroad — Chelny broiler, Prosto Moloko, the agro company Zalesny, Bulochno-konditersky kombinat, Breeding factory of the rabbit. The volume of products supplied are also small — the speaker could not name the export volume but identified that it is approximately $30 million.

According to him, '''the task to enter the global market is being set, but they don't want to wait''. Abroad, there is a need only in small batches of Halal products from the Republic, but the Halal line should not be mixed with other productions. Thus, the production costs will rise, however, only a small amount of products will go for export, but within the country to implement a large part of goods do not turn out to be possible — due to the reduction in the purchasing power of the population.

According to him, the Halal products from Tatarstan are popular in the regions of Russia where a large number of Muslims live

''It is very difficult to enter the global market. First, the standard must meet international certification. It is not so easy to get. Besides, you constantly have to monitor very carefully the quality of your products, the process chain should ideally conform to the standards. In addition, the Halal product even slightly but still is more expensive because the costs are appropriate. A large part of the population are struggling to make both ends meet — there are even examples when the population limit consumption of certain types of assortment. In this situation, it is not so easy to promote the Halal product. Just to be a Muslim is not enough,'' the minister explained.

Answering to another question of Realnoe Vremya, Akhmetov said that the statistics on volumes of produced Halal products in the Republic is not taken, but judging by the increased range, it can be concluded that there is a slight increase. Slowly, but growing demand for Halal products. ''I wouldn't say very fast, but growing,'' said Akhmetov.

According to him, the Halal products from Tatarstan are popular in the regions of Russia where a large number of Muslims live. Among them — Bashkortostan, Chelyabinsk, Penza, Samara, Saratov, Tyumen.

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By Mariya Gorozhaninova. Photo: Maksim Platonov