HALAL export industry in the Philippines, particularly in Mindanao, is an untapped market but has a huge potential and should be developed, said Senate committee chair on agriculture and food Cynthia Villar.

On second day of the Davao Agri Trade and Expo 2017, Villar said there is an existing halal market in the United States worth $1.6 trillion.

By 2018, she said the world food market contribution of halal targets is expected to reach 17.4 percent.

Through the Philippine Halal Export Development and Promotions Act, the country will be able to take advantage of this market.

"Halal trade industry in the Philippines is relatively new but poses huge potential. Developing and promoting the industry will significantly help the Filipino farmers and food producers. It will also boost local employment opportunities. By adapting measures to make halal export more competitive, we can make the Philippines an active player in the region and in the global market," Villar said.

With about 7 million Muslim Filipinos based in Mindanao, she said the island is located strategically and can very well become the halal hub of the country. Currently, Mindanao is being promoted as the halal production center of the Philippines and the gateway to the BIMP-Eaga area.

She added the Department of Trade and Industry had been given the task of certifying products as halal based on a national halal standard.

It was earlier reported that Tourism Congress Philippines Halal Committee chair Marilou Ampuan stated that the Philippines need halal certifiers in order to help support and develop the halal industry.