Food & Beverage (F&B)

A report by the French Trade Commission - Business France Malaysia (December 2019)



Malaysia enjoys a tropical climate with an average temperature of 28°C and a humidity rate of 80%. This type of climate is not suitable for growing temperate climate fruits and vegetables. 

Malaysia produces a wide variety of tropical fruits and vegetables such as pineapples, durians, watermelons, starfruits, bananas, papayas, mangoes, leaf mustard, french beans, long beans, etc. The majority of the local tropical fruits production is to cater for domestic consumption, while a portion is exported to Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong and Indonesia. 

Malaysian consumes a lot of fruit and vegetables, but local production of fruits and vegetables remains below demand and temperate climate fruits and vegetable are not produced locally. Hence, Malaysia is a nett importer of fruits and vegetables. 




Between 2013 and 2018, imports of fruits and vegetables increased respectively by 93% and 49.1%. 

The government has the objective of being self-sufficient in this market and to reach a local production of 570,000 T of fruit by 2020, of which 94.7% will be tropical fruit and 84% for export markets. 

Population growth, combined with rising standards of living, an increasing number of expatriates and tourists and increasing westernization of lifestyles are the main factors driving the growth in demand for temperate climate fruits & vegetables and organic ones. 

Malaysian consumers are now more attentive and pay more attention to their food’s provenance. The country of origin is a criterion of confidence and therefore of choice. 




Local and tropical fruits and vegetables (coconut, bananas, pineapple, durian, mustard greens, tomato, cucumber, ...) remain the most popular thanks to a price advantage compared to imported fruits and vegetables. Indeed, Malaysia has a very diversified fresh fruits and vegetable production all year round. 

China dominates the fruit and vegetable market in Malaysia with cheap and good quality products. The main supplier countries in 2018 are China (EUR 540 million with 39% market share), India (EUR 109 million), the United States (EUR 107 million) and South Africa (EUR 100 million). 




Agriculture GDP Share 8,3%
Imports 1 388  M EUR
Exports 395 M EUR
Fruits Consumption (2018) 63kg/cap/year
Vegetable Consumption 72Kg/cap/year

A report by the French Trade Commission - Business France Malaysia (December 2019)


The baby food market in Malaysia is growing. In 2017 the sector accounted for MYR 2.6 billion (approximately EUR 55 million), i.e. + 9% in value compared to 2016 and + 5% in volume, i.e. 61.3 T. The growing up milk powder market is the category of products with the highest potential (+ 11%).

One of the main reasons is the rising cost of living in Malaysia, which is inciting young mothers to get back to work soon after giving birth. For health reasons, mothers continue to breastfeed until babies are 6 months old.

Simultaneously several actions have been set up by the Malaysian government to encourage this practice. Manufacturers of infant formula are forced by the state to declare on the package that breast milk is the best milk for babies. Marketing activities are allowed, but it is forbidden to influence parents by insinuating that infant milk is better for children.

International brands dominate the market (99% PDM), whose leaders are Dumex, Dutch Lady, Nestlé & Enfagrow. Consumers also find niche products in points of sales (organic products, for allergies etc.) but in very small volumes. The French company Vitagermine is very present in this market, via the Babybio and Babynat brands.

Milk powder seems to be most of the time chosen for its longer shelf life compared to liquid infant formula. A lack of knowledge from consumers may also play a role in this. In Malaysia the importation of all types of milk in liquid form is subject to quotas.

Infant milk is sold in supermarkets, pharmacies, parapharmacies, grocery stores and more and more online on e-commerce platforms like Lazada and Baby Dash.

Regarding imported products, it takes between 6 to 24 months to register with the authorities. Importations and sales of baby food products are highly controlled by the government. Labeling in English or in the national language (Bahasa Malaysia) on the packaging indicating the nutrition information is mandatory.




The Malaysian company The Holstein Milk Company, through their subsidiary Farm Fresh, signed in August 2017 a MOU with Putra Malaysia University (UPM) to establish a center of excellence (UPM - Farm Fresh ICoE). The aim will be to boost local production in the dairy sector and launch research and development projects to present sustainable agriculture solutions.

The implementation of this private-public partnership was planned for February 2018. The project will be extended to the agricultural park of the university in Serdang, and aims to improve existing infrastructure: UPM Dairy Units, Teaching & Learning, Research & Showcase.

According to the Holstein Milk Company CEO, Mr. LOI Tuan Ee, these synergies and assets will help both entities to develop the center of excellence and then the establishment of a National Dairy Board. by the government in 2018.

Innovation activities include genetic research with the help of UPM, a necessary tool to secure the future of the dairy industry. The company's contribution, valued at MYR 15 M (approximately EUR 3.15 million), will be used for the development and transfer of technologies in the livestock subsectors and the production of milk and dairy products.

The experiences and technologies generated by this collaboration will be used between the two parties. According to UPM Vice-President Professor Datin Paduka Dr. Aini Ideris, this teaching and learning center will encourage student participation in the modern dairy industry in Malaysia, a lucrative sector estimated at MYR 2.9. Billion (approximately EUR 610 million) per year.




The e-commerce platform Lazada Malaysia has launched in early March 2018 the Milk Formula Guarantee Program. This strenghten Lazada's involvement to ensure the reliability of the stock and the freshness of all infant formulas sold on the platform. This initiative was supported by several market leaders: Abbott, Fonterra Brands, Friesland-Campina, Nestle & Wyeth.

According to Lazada Malaysia's CEO Christophe LEJEUNE, the initiative deals with key barriers related to the purchase of infant milk on the Internet. "Our customers are concerned with the origin and shelf life of products in this category, especially when sellers are not known. Through this program, we can reassure our customers that the infant milk bought on Lazada conforms with the standards. "

The two priorities of the program are:

  1. Product Reliability - All infant milk SKUs covered by this program are purchased directly from brands and their manufacturers
  2. Freshness of products - All infant milk SKUs covered by this program are sold at least 6 months before the expiry date.

The program also covers logistics, including First-Expiry-First-Out storage and trusted partners. "This program goes beyond industry standards. Our actions reflect the responsibility we have to our customers and we are confident that our logistics chain offers a simple and transparent experience.

In the event that the guarantee is not insured, Lazada Malaysia undertakes to pay its customers compensation of 200%. To date, it is the only e-commerce platform in Malaysia to offer such compensation.

On the occasion of this launch, Lazada Malaysia has officially announced the appointment of Christophe LEJEUNE as CEO. He succeeds Hans-Peter Russell, who has been promoted to International Director for the group.




Recently, an audio clip in Tamil and English circulated on Malaysian social networks, alerting Internet users of a bovine tuberculosis epidemic that led to the slaughter of 8000 cows by the authorities. Several photos of Veterinary Services Department (DVS) employees burying cows appeared on the video. According to the clip, the virus would withstand a temperature of more than 1000°C and consumers were encouraged to avoid the consumption of fresh milk and other dairy products.

The DVS rejected these allegations, explaining that the photos were taken at Sungai Nilam in Selangor State on January the 10th and February 21st during an animal disease surveillance and control exercise.

According to official statistics, only 11 dairy cows were diagnosed with Mycobacterium Bovis bacteria, compared to 57 animals last year and 68 in 2016.


A special report by the French Trade Commission - Business France Malaysia (November 2018)



As a Muslim-majority country, 60% of the population does not consume any alcoholic drinks. The main consumers are the Malaysian Chinese, Malaysian Indian, expatriates and tourists.

Majority of consumers are urban dwellers and the main places of consumption are in cities such as Kuala Lumpur and Penang City and other of country's secondary cities. The second has a big concentration of Malaysia Chinese community, which is located near to the duty-free island of Langkawi. 

The wine and spirits sector are growing strong, driven by the Malaysian middle-class (communities of Chinese and Indian origin). Malaysians are adopting an increasingly Western lifestyle and consuming more alcoholic beverages than before.

The wine and spirits market grew +12% in 2017, with a turnover of MYR 236 million (EUR 50.3 million).
In 2016, wine imports reached EUR 78 million (+ 23% over five years): France is the second wine importing country in Malaysia with 18% market share in value, behind Australia (46%), followed by Italy (4%) and Spain (2%).

Source: GTA 2018



There are about 100 importers in Malaysia, most of them are owned by Malaysian Chinese.

The SOMLAY Sommelier Association, created in 2009, aims to improve the level of exposure and knowledge of Malaysian on wines and spirits products. This association is a part of the ASI (Association of International Sommelier).

The Malaysian Food and Beverage Executive Association, created in 1988, aims to safeguard the interests of food and beverage professionals while contributing to the development of supply in Malaysia.

Many gourmet clubs promote wines and spirits in Malaysia, such as The International Wine & Food Society.
The market leader in the Malaysian wines and spirits in terms of volumes is Caldbeck Macgregor. The group owns multiple brands such as Lindeman's and Taylor, brand that are well known among the local consumers, in spite the increasingly strong competition from new entrants in the market.

As far as beer production is concerned, the market is dominated by two multinationals: Guiness Anchor Behrad and Carlsberg. Both brands produce locally and distribute most of the international beer brands.



The importation of wines & spirits is highly regulated in Malaysia. The different tariff barriers are: customs duties, excise duties and sales tax (SST).

As Malaysia is a predominantly Muslim country, wine promotion is subject to specific regulations. It is forbidden to promote alcoholic beverages on television or through poster campaigns.

Each importer needs an import license issued by Malaysian Customs which has to be renewed annually and accompanied by a health certificate issued by the Malaysian Ministry of Health. The application for a license for any new brand is required. In order to fight against the importation of wines and alcohol contraband (unregistered for payment of duty), the obligation to affix a tax stamp on the bottles has been in force since April 1st, 2005. 



In Malaysia, the reputation of grape varieties plays an important role in the wine selection process. The most imported grape varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz / Syrah, Chardonnay and Sauvignon. The quality of European wines and spirits are well recognised in the country, which allows for strong confidence among the local consumers.

The increasing number of gourmet restaurants is creating new market opportunities for European wines and spirits. Indeed, the opening of numerous luxury hotels, driven by the establishment of high-end gastronomy places in Kuala Lumpur, has contributed to the growing demand for wines and champagnes in the country.

The rise in the purchasing power of the general population also represents a market opportunity for the European producers. Furthermore, the Government's economic transformation agenda aims to make Malaysia a developed country by 2020. Driven by economic growth and the emergence of a middle-class with higher incomes, the market is in full expansion. In addition, the country has more and more tourists and expatriates who are also participating to the growth of the market.

The appearance of distributors of wines and spirits online, represents a market to be explored by the Europeans. Market leaders such as Wine Talk, Wine Connection and Wine Warehouse offer a wide range of products and many consumer services (home delivery) that are appealing more and more to the customers.

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