CEBU-BASED Virginia Food Inc. (VFI) is giving itself a timeline of two years to produce Halal processed products.

Stanley Go, VFI vice president for sales and marketing, told reporters that they have temporarily delayed the production of Halal-products due to the robust demand of non-Halal goods in the local market.

He said the rising population, high disposable income and the fast-paced lifestyle have pushed the demand of processed food in the market.

“Our factories are already running 24/7 and we can’t even cope with the huge demand for non-Halal,” said Go, adding that producing Halal products would also entail additional investments such as erecting a separate production facility solely for these products.

“Our direction to go into Halal has not been fully implemented yet. We are looking at the next two years to realize this plan,” said Go.

He acknowledged, though, the huge growth potential that the Halal market could bring into VFI.

Go said they are keeping an eye on this lucrative market.

Halal is an Islamic value and has a direct impact on how products are produced, processed, distributed, stored, sold and consumed. A product that is Halal-certified means it is compliant with the Sharia law.

The industry spans sectors such as food processing, food service, cosmetics, personal care, pharmaceuticals and logistics industries. Other related industries include travel and hospitality services.

VFI, which produces frozen processed goods, canned goods, sauces, spaghetti and sardines lines, is already present in Dubai, Canada and Australia. They serve, however, the requirement of the non-Muslim communities there.

“Our export market is still small at five percent but eventually, we aim to expand our presence overseas since we want to make food a bridge to the memory of home,” said Go.

DTI Trade and Investments Promotion Group Assistant Secretary Abdulgani Macatoman said there is a need for the Philippines to get involved in Halal export, import and production as the Muslim population worldwide has been steadily growing at 1.84 percent per year.

In 2016, the Muslim population stood at 2.14 billion. It reached 2.18 billion last year. At present, 32.43 percent of Asia’s current population of 1.4 billion is Muslim. In Africa, there are 635 million Muslims.

“World Muslim population translates to a $3.2-trillion Halal industry worldwide. It is expected to increase to $10 trillion by 2030,” said Macatoman. “There are simply more people who need Halal products and services than there are existing businesses.” At present, the Philippines only contributes five percent of the global Halal trade.