Nguyen Phi Van, franchise advisor to the Malaysian government, met with 10 Vietnamese businesses before they attended a trade fair in Thailand in early August.

The businesses included well-known names in their fields – Vinamilk (dairy producer), Minh Long (porcelain), Thien Long (stationary), Vinamit (dried fruit) and Co May (rice & food).

“The market for Muslims is one of very large and fastest growing markets. Therefore, it is necessary to set up specific strategies to penetrate the market,” Van said during the meeting.

The market not only exists in ASEAN countries (Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei), but also in the Middle East and Europe.

The food market for Muslims is vast, with estimated value of $580 billion worldwide, but Vietnamese enterprises still have no business strategies to conquer the market.
The major difference between the market for Muslims and other markets is Halal certificates. However, the certificate is not the only thing enterprises need to enter the market.

Van believes that it would be better for Vietnamese enterprises to enter the market in ASEAN countries first, because it is easier to reach countries nearby.

Indonesia has the highest number of Muslims, but it is not easy to enter because of many legal barriers. Therefore, Vietnamese enterprises have been advised to enter Malaysia first, then use Malaysia as the ‘springboard’ to conquer Myanmar, Brunei and Indonesia.

Van went on to say that enterprises need to have good market strategies. Instead of just selling what enterprises have, they need to try to make products that fit the markets they target.

Truong Dinh Hoe, secretary general of VASEP, emphasized the importance of the market for Muslims who account for 25 percent of the world’s total population.

Citing the figure that Muslims spend $580 billion to buy food with Halal certificates, including $175 billion spent in Central and Southern Asia, $115 billion in Africa, $111 billion in the Middle East and $95 billion in SE Asia, Hoe said the market has a lot of potential for seafood producers and exporters.

He went on to say that Halal food is recognized among non-Muslims as well because of the guarantee of safety and hygiene.

Abdullah Abdulrohman, director of Halal Vietnam which has an office in HCM City, agrees that the market for Muslims has potential. However, he said Vietnam’s exports to the market meet difficulties because enterprises lack information about requirements on product quality.