Egypt has decided to formally open an office in India to ensure that meat exported from the South Asian country conforms to Halal standards set by it. The certifying agency will initially deal with meat while more products in other categories will be included later.

As Egypt buys 60 per cent of its total meat import from India, the mandatory Halal certification is more due to internal politics rather than any quality concerns, an exporter said, adding no issue has been reported so far with regard to meat exports by India.

More on religious line

According to an official of IS EG Halal, the only entity exclusively authorised by the Government of Egypt to certify Halal exports worldwide, the mandatory certification of meat is not only for India but also for all other countries.

He said while certification of plants run by meat exporters will be without any charge, the products to be exported need to be certified for which IS EG Halal will charge at $2,250 per container basis. Asked if it will be paid by Indian exporters, he said it would be between buyer and seller to decide while signing any deal.

When asked for the need of the Halal certification when Indian exporters have already been conforming to global standards set by Codex, he admitted it is more on religious lines. “It is deeply rooted in Islamic philosophy and principles that what is consumed must be backed by an ethical supply chain. In ISEG Halal, we value organic and sustainable living. Our supervisors make sure that every step taken, from grazing to slaughter, ensures that the animal is completely comfortable and free from physical and psychological torture,” the company said on its website.

Food security issue

Egypt Ambassador in India Wael Mohamed Awad Hamed said though he is not an expert on meat, but he knows a lot about Egypt-India relationships that goes back to 1500 BC. He also said meat is not very popular among 80 per cent of the population of India while at least 99 per cent in Egypt are non-vegetarian. “Meat is a very important component of our daily life. So it has become an issue of food security and is also very important to us,” he said.

According to Apeda data, India’s buffalo meat export to Egypt increased to $500 million in 2023 (Jan-Dec) from $493 million even as in terms of volume it fell to 1.82 lakh tonnes (lt) from 1.94 lt.