Bosnia hosts international halal food fair, eyes future markets

  • Tuesday 01, October 2019 01:25 PM
  • Bosnia hosts international halal food fair, eyes future markets
Sharjah24 – Reuters: A three-day industry fair dedicated to halal food opened in Bosnia's capital Sarajevo on Thursday (September 26) as the country hopes to capitalise on the fast-growing market for halal products.
Halal food is prepared in line with Islamic Sharia law, meaning it must not contain any traces of pork, alcohol, or blood and any unhealthy additives at any point during its production, the latter attracting even non-Muslim consumers.

The annual fair is part of Bosnia's attempt to position itself as a major European exporter of halal food, as well as a destination for visitors from Gulf countries.

Around half of Bosnia's 3.5 million people traditionally adhere to Islam, although historically the form of Islam practiced in the country did not observe halal food rules very strictly.

This started to change in the 1990s - first with the arrival of Arab fighters during the country's devastating 1992-95 war, and later with an influx of postwar investments from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and other predominantly Muslim countries.

Food quality expert Hamid Kurjakovic said in the past decade many more restaurants in Sarajevo had begun to offer halal dishes on their menus in response to a growing numbers of tourists.

Sarajevo restaurant owner Faruk Isovic said his business had already seen a pay-off from investing in halal options and expected to continue to do so in future.

Industry estimates put the annual value of the global halal food market at several trillion dollars, with the amount expected to grow further in the coming years.

Speaking via a video link at the fair, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad addressed delegates and Malaysian food companies signed investment deals with local producers.

They included an initial 20 million euro ($22 million approx) deal with a chicken and egg farm based in the country's north-west, and a $5 million deal for a Bosnian food and beverage company to supply a Malaysian fast-food chain.

As well as food and farming businesses, the fair also featured companies offering halal options in the sectors of finance, pharmaceuticals, creative industries and travel and tourism.