Many of West Java's food products have not obtained halal certification despite the province's target to be recognized as a halal province next year.
The Indonesian Ulema Council's Food and Drug Analysis Agency (LPPOM MUI) has issued 10,000 halal certificates for local food enterprises in the province since 1995, according to the agency's data.
Whereas, according to data from the National Statistics Agency (BPS), there were 400,000 local food enterprises out of 8.7 million local enterprises operating in the province.
'Obtaining halal certification is of great importance to increase the competitive edge of the local food industry,' said West Java Industry and Trade Agency head Ferry Sofwan Arif on Tuesday.
He said that neighboring countries Malaysia and Thailand had been exporting their halal certified-products to the country.
To facilitate local food enterprises in obtaining the certificates, the provincial administration had provided financial assistance for the enterprises since 2005, he added.
'We provide assistance for those with annual sales of no more than Rp 50 million [US$4,111]. They also have to obtain home industry certification from the Health Agency,' Ferry said.
The administration had helped in issuing around 6,700 halal certificates since 2005, he added.
He said that each food enterprise usually had to spend between Rp 1.5 million and Rp 5 million to obtain a halal certificate, depending on the scale of the business. 'We need to check not only the final products, but all things, including the production process and facilities,' said West Java LPPOM MUI director Suprijana.
He added that each enterprise had to extend its halal certificates every two years.
'Only around 50 percent of the total food enterprises have extended their certificates, while the others stopped their production,' he said.
West Java's Association of Retail Business (Aprindo) secretary Hendri Hendarta said that halal certification was one of the requirements for local enterprises to market their products in modern retailers.
'We are committed to marketing local products as long as the products have halal certificates, are of good quality and are packaged well,' he said, adding that big retailers would pay the commission every two weeks, he added.
Keripik pisang (banana chips) producer Buyung Salbi Al-Ghifar, who has been running the business for four years, acknowledged that he found it difficult to place his products in big retailers because he had yet to obtain halal certification.
Halal certification remains important for local business players to attract customers in the province. West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan said recently that the province would be a halal province by next year.
On June 24, 2011, Coordinating Economic Minister Hatta Rajasa declared the country as a world's halal center. (koi)