A summary of the latest Halal industry news from around the world.
Indonesia bans palm oil exports
Indonesia, the world’s top palm oil producer, has banned exports to shore up the domestic market. The ban, announced on Friday 22 April, has driven up prices of vegetable oils, with global inventories running low due to the Ukraine-Russia conflict. Prices of palm oil FCPOc3, the most widely used vegetable oil, climbed more than 6% on the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives Exchange, reported Reuters, near the high reached in March. “Indonesia's decision affects not only palm oil availability, but vegetable oils worldwide,” James Fry, chairman of commodities consultancy LMC International, told Reuters. In addition to the impact on food prices, with palm oil widely used in processed foods, snacks and baked items, the ban is expected to have an impact on cosmetics and personal care products.
Meanwhile, Malaysia's palm oil board said that countries need to “reconsider their food versus fuel priorities, as the Indonesian decision has ignited a "crisis" of global edible oil shortage”. “It's very important for countries to ensure available oils and fats are used for food and... temporarily stop or reduce their biodiesel mandates,” the Malaysian Palm Oil Board's director general, Ahmad Parveez Ghulam Kadir, told Reuters.
In other, related, news, Italian confectionery giant Ferrero is to stop sourcing palm oil from Sime Darby Plantation after the U.S. Customs and Border Protection found the planter used forced labour. Cargill Inc, Hershey Co and General Mills Inc. have also stopped imports from the Malaysian company. Sime Darby has promised "sweeping changes" to its “governance and some labour practices following the U.S. finding,” reported Reuters. Malaysia and other palm oil producing countries in Southeast Asia have been under scrutiny for deforestation and the exploitation of migrant workers. Around 80% of Malaysia’s palm oil work force comes from Indonesia, India and Bangladesh, according to Reuters.
Egypt’s Food Lab raises $4.5 million in pre-seed expansion funding
Egyptian cloud kitchen, The Food Lab, was launched in 2020 by Kareem El Daly, Ahmed Osman and Wesam Masoud to use technology to help restaurants and food brands improve their return on investment, reported Tech Crunch. The company has raised $4.5 million in pre-seed financing, its first venture round, led by 4DX Ventures, UAE-based venture capital firms Nuwa Capital and Shorooq Partners, and investors Al Faisaliah Group and Samurai Incubate. Food Lab provides a full suite of end-to-end services, including cloud kitchen (kitchen as a service) and procurement, targeting Egypt’s 400,000 restaurants. Some 50 restaurants and food brands use The Food Lab, while 175,00 end customers have made orders from its kitchens, the company reported.
Saudi Arabia’s Foodics raises $170 million to expand
Riyadh-based food and beverage technology startup Foodics has raised $170 million to bolster services and expand into new countries, reported Bloomberg. Sequoia Capital India and Prosus NV backed the funding round, while Sanabil, owned by the Public Investment Fund, Saudi’s sovereign wealth fund, co-led the fundraising with Prosus. STV, a $500 million Saudi venture fund, also participated in the deal, reported Bloomberg
Nestle to release its first NFT in the MENA
Swiss food giant Nestle is to release its first non-fungible token (NFT) in the Middle East and North Africa, with proceeds to go to charity, reported Econotimes. Nestle’s new NFT release will feature two TRIX Globe digital tokens to mark the debut of the TRIX Breakfast Cereal brand, the website reported. According to Blockchain.news, the new NFTs will be on Opensea.io for bidding until next month. “In line with our promise for ‘Better Lives,’ we are proud to launch the first blockchain-based initiative in the region aimed towards a humanitarian cause with full proceeds of the TRIX NFTs auction going to the Emirates Red Crescent,” Cereal Partners Worldwide, Middle East & North Africa’s business executive officer, Emilien Mesquida, said in a press release.