Monday, December 24, 2012
Brunei - Korean firm eyes Brunei as halal cosmetics centre
BRUNEI will be a manufacturing hub for halal Korean skincare products once the halal standard for the cosmetics has been gazetted.
Jin Kim, director of Landevel Sdn Bhd and a speaker at yesterday's Korean Brunei Business Forum at the Radisson Hotel, said Brunei would be the manufacturing base for export to the sole distributors in Singapore, Dubai and Turkey.
Kim said halal Korean skincare products would be targeted at the global Muslim community, and that Singapore would be the sole distributor for the Asian market, Dubai for the Middle Eastern market and Turkey for the European market.
She said Landevel had given various presentations to government agencies in Brunei, such as the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Religious Affairs. "Maybe within next year, we will be expecting the gazette, but we are lucky that the MIPR (Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources) is trying to support us and they said that maybe they could make a draft first, to let us know about the standards," Kim said.
Asked about whether the Korean company's ingredients would pass halal certification standards, Kim said alcohol was not used in the skincare range and that following meetings with relevant authorities, she had been told the raw materials used in the cosmetics were fine.
Landevel has patented their raw ingredients with the Korean Agricultural Department. "The ingredients are extracted from brown rice, which is not fermented but steamed and dried," Kim said. However, until the ingredients have been officially gazetted, the company cannot start work on the plant, Kim said.
"There would be no point for us to set up in Brunei without halal certification because if it is considered just a normal cosmetics range, then we can set up anywhere. However, Brunei is deeply religious so we want that to be a part of the product," she said.
Once the production plant is set up, Landevel will start producing the basic skincare range, which includes items like moisturisers, toners and essences.
"In the future, we might have mascara and cosmetics and soaps all with the same scent, so that when you bathe, the scent will be the same and women won't have to use perfume," she said.
Kim revealed that they will start production with 5,000 units and that just one-third of the factory would be used at first.
"We have to test and see if it is suitable for Bruneians, or suitable for the Middle-Eastern market, so we have to test it first. We cannot produce 45,000 units from the beginning because that will waste money," she said.
She said that once the company has been given "90 per cent confirmation" on their halal certification, Landevel would test its products in the Bruneian market. "If the Bruneian people are fine with it, then it will be exported everywhere around the world," she said.
As for price, Kim said Landevel would be producing two ranges of skincare products a low- to medium-cost range and a premium range that would be more expensive.
Asked if there was much demand for halal cosmetics in South Korea, Kim said Koreans didn't really know much about what it meant to be "halal". Those who are familiar with the term thought it meant "healthy cosmetics that are good for their health", she said.
"They don't look at the religious aspects, but from the well-being side, and the healthy side," she said.
During the forum, Kim said she had been asked about setting up factories in South Korea by small and medium enterprises. However, she said she felt a better option would be to bring Korean technology and expertise to Brunei and set up a plant here.
"Brunei has a lot of resources, and they can adopt the technology in Korea and work together with Korean companies here," she said. She said that one of the disadvantages of setting up a factory in Korea was the high operational costs, especially when it came to power.
"A lot of factories in Korea are closing down because of the energy prices there," she said, adding that the minimum wage was also relatively hight at US$850 ($1,037) a month.
"In Brunei, labour is much cheaper, but in Korea, you have to pay the minimum wage otherwise the government will take action, so why not set it up here instead," she said.
The Brunei Times