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Thailand to increase Halal food exports

Thailand aims to expand halal food exports by at least 10% a year between 2010 and 2014, helped by new strategies to develop more products for Muslim markets.

A panel on halal industry development, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Korbsak Sabhavasu, has approved strategies to develop the industry. They include a plan to strengthen the potential of the halal industry to meet world standards and conform to domestic demand; promoting the competitiveness of entrepreneurs and increase Thailand's capability in certifying food to Muslim halal standards, expanding markets and upgrading R&D.

The targeted products are livestock products. The strategy calls for five southern provinces - Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat, Satun and Songkhla - to become the production base for halal products.

The total global halal market is estimated to be worth $635 bln, says Sabhavasu, adding that Thailand is currently the 5th-largest halal food exporter, controlling a 5.6% market share.

In 2008, Thai halal exports were worth 5.19 bln baht, up 53.3% from a year earlier. In the first 7 months this year, exports dropped 26.9% to 2.49 bln on shrinking global consumption.

Natalie Berkhout

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