Fonterra being in Malaysia for the last 40 years has secured a place in the Malaysian nostalgia. A pack of Fernleaf is fondly looked upon and days of growing up reminisced.
It also helps that Fonterra’s range of products are diversified enough to support you as you move through the different stages of life. From CalciYum for the young, to Fernleaf for the ages, Anmum for mums, and Anlene for the mature and young females alike, it can be said that Fonterra as a brand has made its way into the DNA of Malaysians. Part of this trust can be attributed to Fonterra’s Halal status which has always been a part of their growth in Malaysia.
We had the pleasure of speaking with Ms. Manisya Ismail, Cooperative Affairs Manager of Fonterra Brands Malaysia, to understand Fonterra’s story especially its Halal story.
Can you share a little background on Fonterra Brands Malaysia?
Well firstly, Fonterra is owned by 10,500 farmers so it’s more of a cooperative than a corporation. That’s the beauty of it.
There are three parts to Fonterra’s business. Number one is ingredients, whereby we sell bulk ingredients to other companies. Number two is Food Services, whereby we market our products to HORECA i.e. hotels, restaurants and caterers. Some of these marketed products are Anchor and Perfect Italiano. Number three are our consumer brands such as Anmum, Anlene, Fernleaf as well as our cultured milk.
Anlene and Anmum were actually first launched in Malaysia in 1991. Malaysia, being one of the four of Fonterra Brands’ leadership markets, has formulated and created these two brands for Malaysians. We are a very important market in the ASEAN region. Whatever we do here has a strong connection to whatever is being done in Fonterra New Zealand.
Our strength is high quality dairy products. For Fonterra we create products that fit consumers needs and one of the greatest added value is that these products are all Halal.
Halal is about producing good, high quality products that are nutritious, hygienic, safe for consumption but with that, it is also important that we have great values that we hold onto in creating these products from farm to fork. Fonterra takes pride in producing high quality milk but not at the expense of animal welfare or the environment. All that encompassed, brings value to the product.
The Fonterra farmers are based in New Zealand and are very passionate about dairy products and grounded by good values. They are aware of Halal and the need to ensure that the process needs to be Tayyib. We have a Halal coordinator based in New Zealand who will ensure that each and every plant adheres to the Halal requirements. We have a Halal policy as well as a guidebook in order to make Halal easy for people to understand.
The underlying philosophy of Fonterra is to do the right thing. That is all about what is ethical from farm, animal welfare and the environment, the whole supply chain, to fork. One of our values is to challenge boundaries. But even though we challenge our boundaries, we have to ensure we do what is right. And part of it is that you can never do it alone so it’s the cooperative spirit. We make things happen but at the end of the day we have to do what is right. And Halal is a part of doing what is right.
Are all of Fonterra’s products certified Halal?
All of them are Halal certified. Products that are produced in Malaysia are all Halal certified by JAKIM and you would see the JAKIM logo on the product packaging.
For those that are brought in from outside of Malaysia, they are Halal certified by a JAKIM recognised Certifying Body within the respective country.
When did Fonterra begin its Halal certification process? When did you realise that the Halal market was an important market to cater to?
Ever since we started operations in Malaysia. As the processes for Halal evolved overtime in Malaysia, so did we. As long as I have been in Fonterra, all products have been Halal certified. We are moving together with Malaysia.
Looking at your customer base for Halal products, do Halal products only appeal to the Muslim market or the non Muslim market as well?
We have been driving this as not just about Halal but about the Tayyib aspect as well. When we source for ingredients we ensure it is Halal but on top of that we also make sure that it’s safe for consumption, it is hygienic, high quality, good, nutritious. It is not just about making profit, it’s doing ethical business where we’re creating products that we know are important for the consumer and the community. We add value to it by making sure it’s Halal. If people see that, then I would say Halal is fit for anyone, not just Muslims.
Do Fonterra’s Halal practices extend to your processes?
Yes, we have a Halal executive. We also have an internal Halal Committee and dedicated personnel who look into our Halal matters. We have people stationed at each critical point such as logistics, procurement etc. So anything that comes into the plant is already Halal because it has gone through a strict process.
To add, we have people in the new product development teams who take Halal into consideration. So the conversation is always alive between the product development teams, procurement, logistics etc. We try to be better in how we execute Halal but never compromise it.
Does Halal certification add to the cost of your products?
No, it’s very minimal. It is not passed on to the consumer. We wouldn’t want to burden the consumer, we just want to provide them with high quality dairy products which are Halal.
How do you communicate the Halal status of your products to your consumers?
When we talk about our products, we always mention that they’re Halal certified. On top of that we also have the relevant Halal logos displayed on all our product packaging. We always ensure to put it upfront so people wouldn’t have to search around the packaging for it. The logos also go on all of our promotional and communicational materials such as print ads etc.
How does Fonterra view the Halal industry in Malaysia and globally?
It is an industry that’s growing at the moment of course. Not just in Malaysia, but globally. Malaysia has always been seen as a pioneer and leader in Halal. The Halal Council in Malaysia has finally been established and it will be led by the Deputy Prime Minister so that shows that Malaysia is very committed to Halal.
New Zealand too is actually one of the first non-Muslim countries to take on Halal voluntarily for all their food & beverages. So I think globally, it’s a growing market.
Do you have any new Halal products to be launched soon?
We just launched the new and improved Anlene formula, which is not just about bones but muscles and joints as well. It includes collagen and a bundle of other important nutrients to support strong bones, joints and muscles. This is about mobility so we want people to mobilise and move as young as they feel inside. This would help the community to gain the best out of milk.
There are other products in the pipeline as well which will be shared in due time. We are consistently innovating our products to fit the consumers needs. Our innovation is always on the move so we can give back to the community. It’s not just about us producing products but producing something that is needed out there and good for you at the same time.