Move with trends or risk being left behind, SMEs told
BRUNEI must learn to catch up with trends in the global food industry or risk being left out of the market, according to a local entrepreneur.
Local businesses need to be forward-thinking and participate in more international events to gain exposure and knowledge about the industry. "Local SMEs must be exposed to foreign trade regulations. If we don't go out, we (won't) know what is needed to export our products," said Mazrina Yussof of Zainab Utama Enterprise.
Highlighting the fact that "not a lot of SMEs know about the certification needed for export", Mazrina said that active participation in international events is also an effective way of promoting local companies in addition to keeping abreast of current trends in the food industry.
"SMEs should know this. In the food industry, if companies want to export, they have to know about foreign food regulations, standards and hygiene (concerns)," she said yesterday.
She recognised though that the government has been supportive in the endeavour to promote Brunei in the global halal market.
However, despite the government's efforts "to buck things up", Mazrina said that the nation lags in the global food market. One of the main challenges is creating awareness among Bruneian SMEs of the importance of establishing standards of certification.
Referring to local SMEs specialising in the halal food sector, she said, "You need to keep updating yourself and you really have to go outside for exposure." Zainab Utama Enterprise is one of the Bruneian companies participating in the first Halal World Expo 2007 in Abu Dhabi. Other companies participating in the three-day expo are Mohammad Mustaqim Enterprises, Montex Garments, SPHI Food Industries Sdn Bhd, McCrumby Sdn Bhd. With more than 4.7 million consumers in the halal market, this expo can potentially open up the export network of such companies, according to a press release.
Mazrina added that Zainab Utama is also looking to widen its market base. "We always have local customers and though they're supportive, it's still not enough. We want to expand more by selling more to the foreign market," she said.
Representatives of the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources are also in Abu Dhabi to promote the Brunei Halal Brand Project as well as the International Halal Expo 2008, Agro Technology Park and other investment opportunities in the country.
The Brunei Times