UK meat producers are missing out on a £1bn-a-year export opportunity because the UK does not have a government-backed halal certification system, halal producers have warned.

Buyers from the Middle East and Asia were increasingly interested in UK-produced halal meat, but UK producers found it difficult to sell into these markets because there was no official halal certification in the UK, Naved Syed, a member of Eblex’s steering group on halal, said.

“New Zealand and Australia have government halal schemes, and they are exporting large amounts of halal meat, but we aren’t.”

The first step would be for the UK government to adopt its own guidance for halal as issued by the FSA, he added. Based on New Zealand and Australia’s success, the UK could then make £1bn in annual sales by exporting halal meat to the Middle East and Asia, Syed claimed.

He said overseas interest in British halal production standards was growing, with foreign delegations visiting to learn best practice. Last week, for example, a TV crew from Malaysia visited UK halal meat producers to film footage for a documentary.

These included Halal World Centre in Birmingham, which produces fresh halal meat lines for Asda and Morrisons. “They were interested in finding out about myself and the company, how we work with retailers and what accreditations and controls we have in place,” said owner Ali Zaibi.

Footage will be broadcast across Asia and the Middle East during Ramadan, from 10 July.

Eblex sector director Nick Allen agreed a single halal certification system would help exports but stressed this should be led by industry rather than government. He added good progress was being made with opening up Saudi Arabia to UK halal lamb exports.