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Food Industry in Malaysia

Food industry in Malaysia is diverse with a wide variety of processed foods with Asian tastes. Last year, this industry contributed around 10% of the country’s manufacturing output. The companies in this industry are mainly Malaysian-owned. The global sales in food products are projected to grow at an annual rate of 4.8% by 2020.

Malaysia remains a net importer of food. In 2008, Malaysia's food exports stood at Ringgit Malaysia (RM) 17.9 billion, while imports stood at RM 28 billion. Malaysia exported food products to more than 200 countries. The key products exported were cocoa, fishery products, margarine and shortening, and animal feed. Key food imports last year were cereal and cereal preparations, cocoa, vegetables and fruits, dairy products and animal feed. Raw materials like dairy products and cereals will continue to be imported for further processing for human consumption and for the production of animal feed.

The food industry is lead by small and medium scale companies. The main sub-sectors are fish and fish products, livestock and livestock products, fruits, vegetables and cocoa. The sub-sector of fishery products includes processed seafood products like frozen and canned fish, crustaceans and mollusks, surimi and surimi products. This sub-sector remained the main contributor to the processed food exports.

Malaysia is the third largest producer of poultry meat in the Asia Pacific region. Malaysia is self-reliant in poultry, pork and eggs, but imports about 80% of its beef requirements. The dairy products produced are milk powder, sweetened condensed milk, pasteurized or sterilised liquid milk, ice cream, yoghurt and other fermented milk.

At present, Malaysia is the largest processor of cocoa in Asia. Nevertheless, most of the cocoa beans are imported. Malaysia is also one of the largest producers of spices.

The production of fruits and vegetables is aimed to reach 2.56 million tones and 1.13 million tones, respectively, by 2010. Vegetables are chiefly grown on a small scale for fresh consumption, and are exported primarily to Singapore. The key areas for vegetable cultivation are in Johor, Pahang, Kelantan and Perak.

Apart from mangoes, star fruits and papayas, the cultivation of pittaya (dragon fruit) is gaining importance among farmers. Most of these fruits cater to the domestic market. Growing awareness among consumers in nutrition value has generated demand for healthy, minimally processed fresh food, organic food and natural food flavours from plants and seafood.

Health food made in Malaysia is essentially in the form of enriched food products. Food ingredients like customised formulations required by food manufacturers, natural food additives and flavours have the prospects for further growth.

The halal industry in Malaysia offers enormous opportunities for Malaysian manufacturers. With a global Islamic population of more than 2 billion, the market for halal food is estimated at more than US$500 billion a year. The idea of halal is associated with food products that are of high quality as in cleanliness, sanitation and compliance with religious requirements.

Last Updated on: 18-11-2009

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