Industries in Malaysia
Malaysia’s food industry is as diverse as the multi-cultures of Malaysia, with a wide range of processed food with Asian tastes. The food processing industry is predominantly Malaysian-owned. It is estimated that the present global retail sales in food products are worth around US$3.5 trillion, and are expected to grow at an annual rate of 4.8 per cent to US$6.4 trillion by 2020.
Malaysia remains a net importer of food in 2011 (RM34.5 billion). Major food imports were cereals and cereal preparations (RM7.2 billion), vegetables and fruits (RM4.2 billion), cocoa (RM3.6 billion), sugar and sugar confectionery (RM3.4 billion) and animal feed (RM2.8 billion). Raw materials such as cereals and dairy products continue to be imported for further processing. In 2011, Malaysia exported food products worth RM20.6 billion to more than 200 countries, of which, processed food contributed about RM13.5 billion. The main exports were cocoa and cocoa preparations (RM3.8 billion), prepared cereals and flour preparations (RM1.6 billion) and margarine and shortening (RM1.3 billion). Major export destinations were Singapore, the USA, Indonesia and Republic of China.
The Malaysian food industry is dominated by small and medium scale companies. The major sub-sectors are the fish and fish products, livestock and livestock products, fruits, vegetables and cocoa.
The fisheries product’s sub-sector includes processed seafood products such as frozen and canned fish, crustaceans and molluscs, surimi and surimi products. This sub-sector is export oriented and remains the main contributor to the exports of processed food.
Malaysia is the third largest producer of poultry meat in the Asia Pacific region. Malaysia is self-sufficient in poultry, pork and eggs, but imports about 80% of its beef requirements. Among the dairy products produced are milk powder, sweetened condensed milk, pasteurized or sterilized liquid milk, ice cream, yoghurt and other fermented milk.
The common fruits cultivated and produced are mango, starfruit and papaya and local fruits such as rambutan durian. Most of these fruits are for fresh consumption in the domestic market. There are currently a number of organic farms producing rice, vegetable and fruits to meet the growing demand. To lend credibility to Malaysian produce, the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry has put in place a certification process whereby accredited farms can carry the “Organic Malaysia” logo.
Malaysia is currently the largest cocoa processor in Asia. Although Malaysia is the world’s fifth largest cocoa producer, local cocoa bean production could not support the huge demand from local grinding and processing industry. Most of the cocoa beans are imported.
Malaysia is also a major producer of spice, being the world's sixth largest exporter of pepper and pepper-related products (specialty peppers, processed pepper and pepper sauces). Other spices such as coriander, turmeric, lemongrass, cinnamon, clove and fennel are also produced
Agriculture is one of the sectors identified in the National Key Economic Areas (NKEAs). It focuses on selected sub-sectors including aquaculture, seaweed farming, swiftlet farming, herbal products, fruits and vegetables and premium processed food which have high-growth potential. There is a growing demand for these high value products which provide opportunities for farmers to increase their income. In addition, the paddy and livestock sub-sectors were also selected due to their strategic nature in ensuring national food security.
Increasing consumer awareness in nutrition value and food fortification for healthcare has created the demand for functional/healthy minimally processed fresh food, organic food and natural food flavours from plants and seafood. Functional/health food produced in Malaysia is mainly in the form of food products that are enriched. Food ingredients such as customised formulations required by food manufacturers, natural food additives and flavours have the potential for further growth.
The halal industry in Malaysia provides immense opportunities for Malaysian manufacturers. It was estimated that the potential value of the halal food industry range between USD600 billion and USD2.1 trillion. The concept of halal is associated with food products which are of high quality in terms of cleanliness, sanitation and compliance with religious requirements.
Malaysia’s food manufacturer can contemplate joint-ventures with established food manufacturer’s particularly from Australia and New Zealand to service the ASEAN, Middle East, European and US markets which have sizeable Muslim populations. Local halal food products can gain easy access into these halal markets as Malaysia’s halal certification is globally recognised.
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