The Philippines is looking at local and international Muslim consumers of halal products as new markets for local producers of milk and milk products.
“This idea was broached to us by our Philippine embassy in Thailand, because that country exports halal milk and milk products to Brunei,” Salvacion Bulatao, the National Dairy Authority (NDA) administrator, said.
“For milk to be halal, it must come from animals considered by Muslims as edible. Milk products must not be mixed or contaminated with forbidden substances. They must be processed using utensils and equipment that are cleaned according to Islamic law. It is also important that substances used are derived from sources certified by the Halal Certification Committee,” she stressed.
NDA, Bulatao said, will consult leaders in Mindanao, particularly those in Lanao del Sur, about making the region as the center for halal milk production.
Leaders in Lanao are actively promoting the upgrading of the local cattle industry into diary breeds.
Bulatao added that this is in connection with the Department of Agriculture’s product diversification and value-adding program being advocated to local agricultural producers and intended for income raising and market expansion.
The agriculture department has been urging producers of grain, fruits, vegetables, livestock and fisheries to go beyond resource-based production and shift to high value-added products for the local and foreign markets.
Bulalato said that the local industry for milk and milk products is doing very well despite stiff competition with foreign milk producers, whose products enter freely in the Philippine local markets.
She said that in Thailand, the government imposes 20 to 40 percent tariff on imported milk products, while in the Philippines that tariff is only 3 to 5 percent.
Of the 326-million kilo demand for milk and milk products last year, only 11 million kilos were supplied by local producers.
The top three milk importers in the country are Nestle Philippines, Alaska Milk Corp. and the New Zealand Creamery, she noted.
However, local producers have partially succeeded in finding niche markets in their own areas, especially when supported by local governments’ milk feeding programs.
Although the Philippines is far from being self-sufficient in milk production, there are pockets of self-sufficiency on the household and barangay levels in many provinces.
Also, local producers are the main suppliers of big hotels and supermarkets, Bulatao said.
At present, the country also produces chocolate and fruit-flavored milk, drinking yogurt, cheeses, pastillas and cream.
During the recent buffalo congress, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap considered the carabao as the country’s hope for self-sufficiency in milk and beef.
However, he said that the current population of three million carabaos must be increased by adapting the crossbreeds to local conditions and by developing other uses for carabao meat and milk byproducts.
Major milk-producing provinces, according to Bulatao, include the provinces of Bulacan, Laguna, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, and Davao, Batangas, Quezon and Zambales. Negros Occidental, Iloilo, Zamboanga del Sur and Bukidnon are considered emerging milk producers.