F&N’s Raffiq Md Ariff: Buoyed by the Bubbly Tea Pull of Teh Tarik

THE FUTURE IS HALAL

F&N’s Raffiq Md Ariff: Buoyed by the Bubbly Tea Pull of Teh Tarik

Malaysia must come up with its own brands to exploit the burgeoning interest for halal products. F&N Malaysia Senior Manager Raffiq Md Ariff tells AWANI Review’s Nur Adilla Noorazam how F&N looks to build on the stirring interest generated by the recent teh tarik promotion in Dubai to steer towards this goal.

Food and Beverages account for the highest contributor to Malaysia’s global halal export with a value of RM20.1 billion in 2017. The continuous rise of the halal market—anticipated by increased interest and participation of more non-Muslim majority country—promises a bright future for industry players.

Multinational companies dominated the market with over RM38 billion worth of export, followed by small and medium entreprises (SMEs) at RM3.8 billion and cottage industries, RM1.5 billion.

The halal market is expanding and there is room for every player, but we must remember that we will not always be at the leading position forever

For Fraser & Neave Holdings Bhd, otherwise known as F&N, the food and beverage group is bravely foraging into the international markets—such as China and the Middle East—with halal products.

As more and more Muslim-minority countries such as Japan, South Korea, Spain and the United States, are shifting their gear to embrace the lucrative opportunities of the halal market by expanding sectors such as halal tourism, financial and banking and pharmaceutical products, Malaysia remains the global favourite for its highly-regarded halal certification from the Halal Accreditation and Certifying Body (JAKIM) and production of halal products, especially food and beverages.

However, for too long, we have been manufacturing and producing world-class halal products while slowly losing the competitive edge by not catching up with the halal brand revolution.

Senior Manager, Export and Business Development of F&N Malaysia, Raffiq Md Ariff said the time has come for Malaysian companies to build our own brands.

“We are more than capable of building our own brands. The halal market is expanding and there is room for every player, but we must remember that we will not always be at the leading position forever.

Our halal certificate is regarded as one, if not, the best in the world and is revered and envied by other countries

“Local players, SMEs included, must make the best of our country’s reputation in the global halal market. Our halal certificate is regarded as one, if not, the best in the world and is revered and envied by other countries.

“Standing on our country’s strong brand name and influence, it is time we start building more Malaysian Halal brands for the global market,” says Raffiq. 

For F&N itself, expanding to countries such as China is a challenge it is willing to embrace as part of its plan to mark its presence in the halal market further.

“It is definitely not an easy task. First of all, we need to remember that when it comes to Malaysian and Chinese consumers, they are two very different sets altogether.

"Of course, China is a huge market with very exciting potentials. There are Muslim majority provinces and their total Muslim population is close to 22 million. It is definitely a playing field F&N is very excited about but as we are still in the initial stage, we have a lot of ground work to do to understand our consumers properly,” he adds.

The Middle East is another tea drinking society that appreciates a good dose of sweetness in our drinks. When we went to Dubai and showcased the Malaysian version of tea or ‘Teh Tarik’, they were intrigued

Raffiq, who just returned from Dubai after representing F&N at an exposition, said the Middle East and South Asia are potentially-lucrative markets for halal producers.

“Of course, Muslim majority countries always welcome more halal products for their consumers. Again, for us at F&N, this requires another set of study of the consumer habits in order to truly put forth products and communications that appeal to the masses.

“For example, we are looking at expanding to Bangladesh which has a strong chai or tea drinking culture with our condensed milk. In their home country, they already have locally-produced condensed milk used by the people yet ours taste differently and was still able to compete in the market.

“The Middle East is another tea drinking society that appreciates a good dose of sweetness in our drinks. When we went to Dubai and showcased the Malaysian version of tea or ‘Teh Tarik’, they were intrigued. They love the taste though they might not understand the bubbles but it was a hit nonetheless,” he says.

He said that expositions and trade events such as the Malaysian International Halal Expo (MIHAS) are integral to the success of local halal brands in penetrating the global market.

“It is truly our time to shine. It’s our time to gather our resources and get the best cooperation from companies, researchers and innovators, and the government, in order to build and maintain a conducive, successful halal market environment."

F&N, who is also one of the largest exhibitors in the 15th edition of MIHAS, will showcase its attention-grabbing Teh Tarik Man to promote one of its best-selling products—condensed milk.

“I expect our Teh Tarik Man to make an impact during MIHAS just as he did during the Dubai expo. Aside from that we would be showcasing our best products and innovations that I’m certain would certainly interest the attendees,” he adds.

MIHAS will take place on the 4th to 7th April at MITEC, Kuala Lumpur. This year’s edition promises to be its biggest yet with over 1,100 exhibitors from 40 countries.

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