Photo: An aircraft of German air carrier Lufthansa flies beyond the a terminal at the Fraport airport in Frankfurt, Germany, November 2, 2016. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
Germany’s busiest airport is considering the need and feasibility of establishing separate halal air cargo lines, pending the findings of a study led by Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences.
“Halal products register an increasing demand worldwide. As the airport operator, we want to make sure that our processes are aligned with the requirements of our customers,” Felix Kreutel, Senior Vice President of Cargo at Frankfurt Airport, told Salaam Gateway.
The primary goal of the study is to determine if there is sufficient demand for the transport of halal products by air, said Prof. Dr. Yvonne Ziegler, who is leading the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences team that is conducting the study. “Without [demand], it does not make sense to establish a separate process,” said Ziegler.
She said the study’s findings, which will be released in March, will reveal that exporters show strong interest in transferring their halal products through Frankfurt Airport if it provides halal logistics services. “For exporters [in Germany], it is very important to be able to sell food products abroad in Muslim countries,” Ziegler said.
“Exporters are focusing on the Indonesian market because the legislation there is becoming stricter, and because it is one of the biggest Islamic markets,” she added.
Frankfurt Airport Perishable Center, the biggest in Europe, currently doesn’t provide dedicated halal storage or transport facilities, it said in a statement. The center handles 120,000 tons of goods every year, mostly pharmaceuticals, and only a very small volume of food.
The higher cost of air freight compared to cargo shipped by sea means that only expensive products such as computers, pharmaceuticals, and machines are transferred by planes. Perishable goods such as cheese, cream, premium meat, and exotic fruits are also transferred by air due to their short lifespan and higher value.
The study will also determine if there is enough demand within Germany to import premium halal products through Frankfurt Airport.
The demand for halal products from within the European Union’s largest economy is driven by the country’s growing Muslim population, which rose by 27.3 percent from 2011 to around 4.7 million in 2016, according to the Federal Office for Immigration and Refugees (BAMF). The sharp growth is attributed to the influx of immigrants and refugees fleeing wars in Middle Eastern countries such as Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.
In order to gauge the demand for premium imports through the airport, Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences conducted a survey of 800 Muslim consumers in Germany, and in neighboring France and Netherlands. “The Muslim communities in these countries said they want to purchase halal products, but they don’t have high trust in products produced in France, for example,” Ziegler said.
She believes the lack of trust stems from the absence of a single authority to oversee the halal mark. “Anyone can claim the halal sticker on food,” she said.
Survey respondents said they were willing to pay a premium for trusted halal food, with some saying they are willing to fork up between 10 and 25 percent more than for non-premium versions of the same product.
The survey also revealed respondents’ interest in halal logistics to ensure non-contamination of their halal food.
The ongoing audit for Frankfurt Airport is based on the Malaysian Standards on Halal Logistics MS 2400 published in 2010. The study’s partner is Halal Control, which is the only certifier in Germany currently recognized by the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM).
Halal Control’s role is “to test the supply chain for halal compliance and to make recommendations for building a halal logistics product,” according to Dr. Rachid Fetouaki, head of the certifier’s Regulatory Affairs and Compliance Department.
The challenge to certify Germany’s biggest airport is no small task. The easiest way will be complete segregation of halal and non-halal products, which is currently not possible. “At the moment at the airport you have a big area where products are delivered so they are [all in one place]. They are also stored more or less in the same facility,” Ziegler said.
The study will also look into how a prototype of halal cargo transportation will work at Frankfurt Airport.
Frankfurt’s airport is not the only major European transportation hub without a halal logistics infrastructure. Halal logistics, which covers storage, transport, and terminal handling, is also lacking across Europe, according to Ziegler. Only the port of Rotterdam has halal storage facilities, but no dedicated transit vehicles.
Frankfurt Airport is Germany’s largest aviation hub. Passenger traffic soared by 6.1 percent in 2017, with more than 64.5 million passengers travelling through.
The airport’s cargo throughput, which is the total of airfreight and airmail, grew by 3.6 percent year-on-year to around 2.2 million metric tons. Aircraft movements grew by 2.7 percent to 475,537 takeoffs and landings, according to airport operator Fraport.
(Reporting by Ali Bahnasawy; Editing by Emmy Abdul Alim [email protected])
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