ASEAN March 2020
 
Growing case for Plant-based, Halal Food after COVID-19 and Swine Fever epidemics
 
With the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak which cost almost 20,000 human casualties worldwide and half a million infected cases with numbers still growing, the world is placed at a stand-still thinking of what will be the next best step to end this pandemic.
Just a year before, the world also witnessed another massive viral infection with some estimates placed up to 500 million pigs being culled as they were infected with African Swine Fever (ASF), another type of virus but attacking only the hog population.
Coincidentally, both outbreaks started in China and both has spread rapidly with COVID-19 now spreading to every corners of the globe, whereas ASF spread rapidly in Asia within a span of just 1 year.
With such severe crisis impacting our global population, many countries, governments and even manufacturers would have to think of the next best solution to ensure such outbreak will never repeat again.
One solution is to go entirely ‘green’ i.e. to switch totally from animal (meat) consumption to plant-based alternatives. Another option which we think will be more difficult to enforce, is to ensure that food consumption is regulated, with China already banning the consumption of wild animals.
Another option for some manufacturers is to go for Halal certification meaning an Islamic law that decrees that all sourcing, handling, processing and labelling of consumer products adhere to stringent Halal regulations.
In Indonesia, a country of 260 million people, all food suppliers, distributors and manufacturers have to adhere to Halal regulations by 2024. Indonesia, as a country, wants to instill Islamic principles into a range of sectors from food production and distribution to pharmaceuticals and related industries. The same goes for Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore which have witnessed growing number of food companies adopting Halal standards in their manufacturing process.
Interestingly, ASEAN non-muslim neighbours like Thailand and Philippines are also capitalising on the growing Halal food demand. Thailand is about to get a big boost when its Central Islamic Council of Thailand has been recently recognised as a Halal organisation meeting the Emirates International Accreditation Centre (EIAC)’ standards, facilitating exports to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Even plant-based meat producers like Impossible Foods are now looking for Halal certification for their products. In most cases, there isnt a need to get Halal certification for plant-based products, however manufacturers would want to get the ‘logo’ to gain higher acceptance by muslim consumers.

Under the radar is a recent report that Bird Flu has resurfaced back in China.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, China is experiencing an outbreak of bird flu with the disease already killing 4,500 chickens in Hunan province alone. The government has culled almost 18,000 chickens to prevent its spread.
With a total of 3 major outbreaks in the country alone, the Chinese government has announced plan to reform its meat production with food security as the country’s top state issue. Several sources reported that the government has approached several large meat importers and offered them the opportunity to set up state-of-the-art meat and animal processing factories on the mainland.
 
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