The global Halal market has been booming in recent years, and is currently estimated to be worth US$2.4 trillion, according to a report by the State of the Global Islamic Economy. By 2028, growth is projected to hit US$4 trillion, driven by the growing Muslim demographic (Muslims comprise 25% of the world’s population), rising awareness of Halal products, and the popularity of Halal tourism.
However, for Hong Kong’s 300,000 Muslims – who make up 5% of the city’s population – the 60-odd Halal-certified restaurants offer limited choices. In fact, a large proportion of people living in this multicultural city have limited knowledge about Halal food and practices.
But there are plenty of prospects for growth: Hong Kong’s thriving Muslim community, together with incoming Muslim tourists, present a significant opportunity for businesses to cater to the needs of this growing demographic.
Some local companies have been actively taking steps to make Hong Kong more Muslim-friendly. At a roundtable luncheon at the Chamber on 25 July, Sharifa Leung, Managing Director of 3 Hani Enterprises, shared with members on the Halal market in Hong Kong and the potential opportunities for local enterprises.
Leung, who has been promoting Halal food and products in Hong Kong since 2018, said that the city currently offers a limited selection of Halal products and services.
According to the Global Muslim Travel Index 2022, the top three Muslim-friendly destinations in the world were Singapore, Taiwan and especially Thailand, which boasts over 14,000 companies operating with Halal certification. Japan and Korea are also seen as nations serving Halal tourism. For Hong Kong to tap into the market, Leung said more awareness was needed in the community, which could be spread through events such as trade shows, food festivals and exhibitions. With a growing number of inbound tourists from Muslim-majority countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia, there definitely is burgeoning demand and room to grow.
Leung also explained the process of obtaining Halal certification, which includes audits involving documents review, examination of ingredients and product supply chains, as well as onsite inspections. Once the criteria are met, halal certification is awarded by a Halal Certification Body, followed by training and workshops. Examples of local businesses that successfully and profitably offer Halal products include Koon Chun Sauce and Imperial Patisserie, which cater to local and international clients.
Meanwhile, top fast-food chains in Hong Kong such as KFC have also been working to expand their Halal offerings to support diversity and inclusion. Karen Chan, General Manager, KFC Hong Kong and Macao, said Halal-friendly menus are available at five branches across Hong Kong, with the first launched in Jordan in November last year. She explained KFC’s journey to offer Halal items, which stemmed from the brand’s core chicken product, sourced from a Halal-certified producer in the United States and which had been within the system for many years. The brand is currently looking at offering Halal menus in other areas of the city. The goal, Chan said, was to eventually offer it in every major neighbourhood, in an effort to make it more accessible to the wider community.
Businesses in Hong Kong looking to tap into this growing market can also look to Malaysia for inspiration. With well-structured regulations and a comprehensive ecosystem, the country is at the forefront of Halal standards and certification. Its Halal products and services are also known worldwide for their quality.
Yazrin Syakhairi Mahlan, Trade Commissioner at MATRADE, Consulate General of Malaysia in Hong Kong, explained that Halal is not a religion but a lifestyle – it goes beyond food products to include everything from fashion to pharmaceuticals. He also pointed out that certain segments and checkpoints along the Halal supply chain are dominated by non-Muslim majority countries such as Brazil, which is the largest exporter of Halal-certified meat in the world.
With the number of inbound Muslim visitors to Hong Kong rising, especially as post-pandemic travel soars, Mahlan cited the example of the “Hello Hong Kong” campaign by the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB), which includes a microsite dedicated to offering information and advice for those seeking Halal tourism, in an effort to expand hospitality towards this segment of travellers.
Mahlan also noted that under the ASEAN-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement, there is no duty imposed on 98% of the products, allowing business communities on both sides to seize the substantial opportunities available in the Halal market.
Meanwhile, the International Malaysia Halal Showcase (MIHAS 2023) will return to Kuala Lumpur from 12-15 September. The expo serves as a platform for both international and local players, offering services and products including pharmaceuticals, medical devices, finance, fashion, personal care and cosmetics, green technologies and tourism. Last year, MIHAS hosted over 30,000 sellers and visitors, resulting in trade value of over US$513 million.