China wants a bite of the booming halal food market


A new Euromonitor report forecasts that Muslim consumers will make up more than a quarter of the world's population by 2030, and China wants to play an active role in feeding them.


Chinese companies are increasingly flexing their muscles in the burgeoning market for Halaal food - one a report last year commissioned by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce said would be worth $1.6 trillion by 2018 - while the government is also eyeing Halaal-focused pacts with regional partners to broaden country's export portfolio.


China, however, is forging ahead. Under its "One Belt One Road" initiative that aims to recreate the Silk Road land and maritime trade routes, China has sought opportunities for halal trade with Muslim and Arab countries through bilateral trade agreements.


In Linxia city, in China's Gansu province, several companies have struck trade agreements with Turkey and Kazakhstan to export manufactured food products, reported Want China Times.


China has also set up networking conferences and seminars, including the Sino-Malaysian Halal Food and Muslim Supplies Certification and Industry Cooperation Seminar that took place in July this year.


And it has created infrastructure to support the halal trade, including the construction of halal food and Muslim supplies manufacturing hubs such as the Wuzhong Halal industrial park, in the Muslim stronghold of Ningxia, which has attracted 218 companies.


It is not just external demand that is driving China's interest in Halal.


Joy Huang, China research manager at Euromonitor International, told CNBC that demand was also underpinned by non-Muslim mainland residents.


"Halal food is considered to be healthy and hygienic, given the high standards for manufacturers," Huang said. "Non-Muslims think that [halal food] is safer, given the number of food safety scandals in China," she added.


Major local food players are jumping on the bandwagon to meet the growing domestic appetite for Halaal products. Shineway Group, one of China's largest processed meat companies, was an early starter, investing $310 million in a halal meat production base in 2009.