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The Fowl Story - Another Kind of Success

  The Halal Journal,
January 2005 issue

Time and tide waits for no man. When it comes to business, Prima Agri-Products Sdn Bhd (Prima Agri), Malaysian leading producer of delicatessen fare, knows what it means to be prompt. Entering the EU market is as serendipitous as entering the proverbial Ali Baba's cavern.

Established in 1987, Prima Agri started exporting processed poultry products in the later half of 2002 after receiving approval from the EC. Starting with a modest delivery of about four containers a month to the EU. According to MITI, about 70 per cent of their products are for domestic market and the balance for export to countries like the EU, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Hong Kong.

The EU, which has a quota of 9,000 metric ton of raw poultry produces, has a per capita meat consumption of 8 kilogram per person for delicatessen products.

"And we are looking at 20 million Muslims out of 370 million total EU populations Combine these figures with their per capita meat-consumption and their high purchasing power," says Ahmad Nadzer Idris, Prima Agri's general manager. "and you have a good market". His good market is actually making turnover of more than RM 40 million annually -and it is certainly waiting for no man.

However, Prima Agri's story is far from being an overnight success. "It is totally a new experience for DVS and MITI," says a poised Ahmad Nadzer when talking about Malaysian government's support in aiding Prima Agri to obtain and export green light from the EU.

"We must work together. From his experience applicants should be more involved and enterprising when dealing with the matters. "There should be follow-ups. If you are not perseverant enough, you will end up blaming others for not being cooperative," he says.

"It took us five years (to obtain the EC's approval)," claims Ahmad Nadzer, attributing the delay to application documents circulating between DVS in Malaysia and MATRADE's office in Brussels. He even described the entire process as 'tedious' because Prima Agri had to submit their application four times due to 'changes of regulations and import requirements from the EU' amongst other reasons.

Nonetheless, he is confident that new applications will take less than a year to be approved. "Ours take longer because we were the first applicant (from Malaysia)," he says. "We had to prove that we have a good manufacturing practice (GMP)," he says. A GMP is a system to ensure that products are consistently produced and controlled according to quality standards.

He says that one can have a different opinion on whether the Malaysian government is fully supporting the industry but "the intention to export should come from the industry". "How can our poultry producers comply to international standards when they do not even have a GMP certificate?" he asks.

"If they think that their standard is meant for locals, they will always remain local-oriented." Ahmad Nadzer gives Thai poultry producers as an example of meeting export requirements. "Our local skinless, boneless poultry producers charge between RM 8.50 to RM 9".

Thailand offers the same product to Malaysia for RM 5. What does it say about Malaysia poultry producers?" (They) are not competitive!" says Ahmad Nadzer.

Prima Agri's requirements for the export of poultry products to the EU may be less stringent than a company requesting to export fresh and frozen.

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