Halal Industry 

Europe’s top ports snub halal business citing weak demand

| 26 March, 2018
 Ali Bahnasawy
Europe’s top ports snub halal business citing weak demand
Photo: A container terminal is seen in the<span class="highlight"> port </span>of<span class="highlight"> Rotterdam</span>, the Netherlands, March 21, 2016. REUTERS/Michael Kooren/File Photo

There isn’t enough demand for halal logistics in Europe, officials of the region’s four busiest ports have told Salaam Gateway.

“The port authorities don’t have current or future plans regarding halal logistics,” Tie Schellekens, Press Officer for the Port of Rotterdam, Europe's busiest port by container traffic, told Salaam Gateway.

Port of Rotterdam had put in a lot of effort to promote halal warehousing in the early 2000s but has stopped offering it due to insufficient demand, according to Schellekens. “Ten years later, halal warehousing proved to be not successful,” he said.

Europe’s second busiest port tells the same story. “There are no halal facilities in [the Port of] Antwerp. Basically because there is no request from the market,” Annik Dirkx, Port of Antwerp spokesperson, told Salaam Gateway.

Dirkx also confirmed that Belgium’s biggest port does not harbor future plans to pursue halal facilities.

Hamburg Port’s marketing team, responsible for promoting the EU’s third busiest port’s services and facilities, said that after speaking to port operators and cargo companies, no entity is aware that there are halal facilities or processes in the Port of Hamburg.

“Should the demand grow in the future, [Hamburg port] companies would react accordingly,” said Annette Krüger, Press Officer for the Port of Hamburg marketing team.

The situation is the same for Europe’s fourth busiest port. “We don´t have knowledge about plans for separate halal storage,” Bremenports, the company managing Bremen and Bremerhaven ports, told Salaam Gateway.

A lack of demand for halal logistics has also resulted in the closure of the service at a smaller port.

The port of Zeebruggee in northern Belgium, in cooperation with logistics service provider for cold storage Zeebruggee Food Logistics (ZFL), was halal-certified by the Halal Food Council of Europe in July 2012.

In 2017 both the port and the company froze their halal certification. 

“The reason for the suspension is that there is very little demand. Logistics is not really in the picture yet for halal,” Sylvie Becaus, ZFL CEO, told Salaam Gateway.

To avoid contamination, ZFL stored halal meat and poultry in separate corridors dedicated for halal products. The company now uses those same corridors for other products.

Becaus said ZFL is still transferring and storing halal products but not according to halal logistics standards. “The client doesn’t ask if the conservation was halal,” said Becaus.

ZFL followed Malaysia’s standards on halal logistics MS 2400 during the five years of its halal operations, said Becaus.

Chart Europe ports

PRICE PAIN POINT

The lack of demand has literally meant that businesses pay the price for using less than full facilities.

“When the corridor was full with halal products, there was no difference in [storage] price. But when we had to empty the whole corridor for two [halal] pellets, of course there was a difference in price,” said ZFL’s Becaus.

According to Prof. Dr. Frank Ordemann of the Institute for Logistics Management at the Ostfalia University of Applied Sciences in Germany, price is the most important factor for businesses considering halal logistics. “I don´t believe, that, for example, container carriers which only carry halal goods could survive in the business, unless the customers of halal goods are willing to bear much higher costs for their goods,” he said.

Therese Puetz, a twenty-year veteran of temperature controlled logistics and airfreight, agrees that price is the deciding factor for businesses even when they know that halal logistics is “an integral part of their halal promise and quality management system”. She believes the price pain point for businesses has not been mitigated by sufficient awareness for halal logistics on the part of the consumer.

“The consumer is not aware that transportation and storage could represent a critical area in the halal supply chain,” said Puetz, who as CEO of Dubai-based Karavan Management Consulting overlooks many halal logistics projects.

“What is the business incentive for the ports?” said Puetz. “Until halal logistics standards will be made obligatory and/or the industry is willing to pay a surcharge, ports will hesitate to offer halal logistics."

(Reporting by Ali Bahnasawy; Editing by Emmy Abdul Alim emmy.alim@thomsonreuters.com)

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