KUALA LUMPUR -- The Halal Fiesta ASEAN (Halfest ASEAN) 2017 is expected to woo both visitors and entrepreneurs to its impactful programs, innovative and quality products and services, says Halal Industry Development Corporation (HDC) Chief Executive Officer Datuk Seri Jamil Bidin.

He said the five-day event, to kick off on August 23 at the Mines Exhibition Center, would present a new line of strategic partners namely the Bumiputera Agenda Steering Unit (TERAJU), with the aim of enhancing Bumiputera engagement in this potentially large-scale industry, and also Starbucks Malaysia which would share its quality and branding strategies.

HDC is the organizer of Halfest ASEAN 207 and co-organized by Shapers Malaysia.

"As for our partnership with TERAJU, we will conduct a product development program, focusing on innovation and creativity by introducing a Superb Halal Chefpreneur Challenge 2017.

"Cooking expert Datuk Redzuawan Ismail or better known as Chef Wan by Malaysians will assist us to select five entrepreneurs as the winner under the challenge round," he told Bernama.

Jamil said five entrepreneurs will receive a grant of RM50,000 each to develop their food products to the next level.

The Chefpreneur Challenge would be an annual activity at Halfest with the allocation likely to increase, he said.

"Next year, we aim to organize Halfest on a much bigger scale, to further complement the government's Halal agenda," he said, adding that the next halal event in the country would focus on promoting halal ingredients.

"With all these events in the pipeline, we are confident Malaysia can export RM50 million worth of halal exports by 2020 from RM42 billion at present. This could be achieved via an additional RM2 billion (in exports) yearly before we enter 2020," he explained.

Besides, halal products and services, Jamil noted that the demand for halal ingredients from Malaysia has started to pick up, and soon, the country would want to leverage on this platform, promoting cosmetics and healthcare.

Halfest ASEAN 2017 is an integrated trade and consumer expo for halal products and services, a platform for entrepreneurs, especially small and medium enterprises to promote their products and services while strengthening trade relations within the retail industry in Malaysia and the ASEAN region.

Meanwhile, Shapers Malaysia Sdn Bhd Chief Executive Officer Datuk Mohd Shukri Abdullah said the company expected sales during the five-day event to match would hit last year's RM4 million.

"This year we have about 200 buyers for business matching session, therefore we are expecting to increase the number," he said.

Besides the business matching session, other activities lined-up in conjunction with the event, include the Islamic Takaful Banking Week, talks by the Association of Islamic Banking Institution Malaysia and Malaysian Takaful Association, Halfest ASEAN street food kiosks, pocket talks and halal clinics.

The pocket talks and halal clinics would offer local entrepreneurs a chance to learn about halal certification and enhance the ranking and marketing of their products and services. (Benama)