• Kyodo

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A seasoning maker and a university in Oita Prefecture have enlisted Muslim students to help in the development of a new halal soy sauce, aiming to export the product to Southeast Asia beginning this year.

The soy sauce being developed by Fundokin Shoyu Co. and Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University uses preservatives instead of alcohol to curb bacterial degradation. The alcohol typically used in the production keeps most soy sauce from meeting Islamic dietary laws.

The Japanese company began researching taste and packaging preferences through interviews with Muslim students from Southeast Asia at the university last fall, and this April began preparing 120 kiloliters of halal soy sauce on a specially designated production line.

The company plans to apply for halal certification for the product from the Japan Halal Association in July.

There is a growing interest in Japanese food in Southeast Asia, said Dimas Lagusto, a 35-year-old student from Indonesia involved in the soy sauce development program, adding that customizing food to suit local preferences is the key to success.

The global Islamic population totals more than 1.6 billion with Indonesia the nation with the largest number of Muslim citizens. Malaysia is also predominantly Islamic providing another regional market for the product.

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