IFCE Conference Highlights
Europe’s only premier halal event, the International Halal Food Conference, organized by Islamic Food Council of Europe (IFCE), returned to Brussels this year. The event had moved to Amsterdam in 2006 following a highly successful inauguration in 2004 in Brussels. This third international Halal Food Conference, held on 21 November 2008 at the Sheraton Hotel, Brussels Zaventem Airport, Belgium, was an astounding success attracting around 50 food industry professionals from 15 countries.
The prestigious biennial event got bigger and gained higher prominence this year. The event was graced by Madam Wan Suraya Radzi, minister counsellor for economic affairs of the Malaysian Embassy. Distinguished guests include Dr. Hartiulistyoso Edy, agricultural attaché of the Indonesian Embassy. He is also the president of the Indonesian Muslims Association in Brussels, and Ms. Deborah Lee, 1st secretary (commercial) of the Singapore Embassy. The attendance of such important guests marks the surge of importance of the halal industry in Europe and the credibility of IFCE being the premier halal certification expert throughout Europe. The event was supported by the Indonesian Council of Ulama (MUI) and the Halal Industry Development Corporation of Malaysia (HDC).
Drs. Hj. Amidhan Shaberah, chairman, MUI, kickstarted the conference with a huge welcome from the audience. He presented halal investment opportunities in Indonesia. He responded to many questions from the floor with regards to Indonesian halal policies. Drs. Hj. Amidhan expressed strong support and recognition of IFCE as a credible halal certifier of Europe. He commended IFCE’s ability to organize three international halal food conferences. The event added to the stature and credibility of IFCE as the premier halal certification body in Europe, matched by no other halal certifier in the region.
Next, Ustaz Hj Zainal Abidin Jaffar, senior manager, Halal Integrity Division, HDC, introduced the new authority in Malaysian Halal certification. He shared with the conference the comprehensive Malaysian Halal Standard: the MS1500. He also updated the conference on some developments in Malaysia’s halal certification. He iterated that IFCE is a Malaysian recognized halal certifier in Europe and a partner to HDC.
Dr. Muhammad Munir Chaudry, president, Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA), presented a conference paper on the developments in halal certification. A mind-opening presentation, he shared on the history and current activities in the halal industry and markets. The evolution of halal from self-produced halal meals to the multi billion dollar industry today was particularly interesting to all participants.
Shahlan Hairalah, an international halal consultant with years of special interest in halal science, marketing, and economics, presented the current and future trends of global halal certification. He revealed the various regional markets and the rise of the middle class affecting halal consumption globally. He emphasized the importance of the 4 Forces of Successful Halal Trade as the key in reaping all-round benefits of the surging halal industry.
Other guests included conference speakers from multi-national corporations. They are Donald Sgontz from Abbott Laboratories, Christine Lodder from Mead Johnson, Jes Knudsen from Novozymes, Mark Overland from Cargill Inc, Etienne Maillard from Lesaffre, and Mark Van Mulders from Puratos. All spoke very highly of IFCE, about timely hosting of the conference and their relationships with the certifying body IFCE. All of them shared how they had systemically implemented IFCE’s halal program in producing high quality and premium products. They stressed the importance of selecting a halal certifier that shares their corporate mission and expresses high levels of integrity and capability. In this important and critical aspect of business they expressed great satisfaction to have chosen IFANCA in the USA and IFCE in Europe.
Mufti Ebrahim Desai, chief religious advisor for IFCE, presented an Islamic perspective on the commitment to producing and certifying halal products. From Ceylon Jamiyyatul Ulama, Sri Lanka, J. T. Mahmud presented the Sri Lankan experience in halal certification.
Another IFCE associate, Dr. Jabbar Khattak, biotechnologist and auditor, presented a paper on the status of biotechnology in halal certification.
Professor Dr. Hj. Mohamed Sadek, chairman of IFCE and the chief conference organizer, concluded the conference by summarizing the presentations. In his closing remarks, he thanked all participants and speakers for their continued support to the conference and to IFCE. He urged participants to continue their strong support and contribution in meeting the demands of halal markets. Dr. Sadek promised the food industry that IFCE will keep providing the halal services second to none, and IFCE halal certificates will remain acceptable in all countries, especially Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. Participants gave IFCE and Dr. Sadek a standing ovation in agreement and for their excellent achievements over the years.