Malaysia Food Importers and Import Trends – BestFoodImporters 2024 Update

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Blog, Food Importers, News, Trends
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Malaysia, one of the most developed countries in Southeast Asia, is also a major importer of food, with annual imports of over US$15 billion. In certain food market segments, Malaysia is almost totally dependent on importation, especially in the meat sector, along with dairy, seafood and cocoa.

Malaysia, a rather small nation that sits as a gateway between the Indian Ocean and the China Sea, is a global economic power with a huge influence in SE Asia. Its extremely diverse population and cuisine combined with a high GDP created a constant demand for a wide variety of food and beverages from around the world, fueling imports and the development of importers and distributors for both ethnic and premium products, among others.

The popular health/organic foods and convenience meals trends are also present in Malaysia and offer a lot of interesting opportunities for producers who are looking for these types of products in Asia.

A very important thing that exporters should take into consideration is that as the country’s population is over 65% Muslim, almost all food and ingredients destined for the food service sector must be certified halal. For a list of import declaration procedures and import restrictions, Malaysia’s Customs website can be accessed here

Finding a reliable food importer/ distributor (most local food importers also distribute) in Malaysia is very important and companies will need their constant support in order to develop a marketing plan, branding and packaging for a market that can prove challenging because of its diversity.

If we analyze the countries that export the most in this region, China is Malaysia’s top supplier with imports from China reaching around 20% of the market.. India took the second spot followed by Thailand, New Zealand, Australia and US.

Malaysia created the National Food Security Policy 2021-2025 which aims to reduce the country’s dependence on imports and hopes to do this by setting up more trade agreements and by encouraging farmers to start planting some traditional vegetables – beans, salads and fruits, and by increasing national production of rice, chilies and meat.

Meat and Beef Imports

Malaysia’s meat and meat products imports reached USD 1.4 billion last year. Over 80% of the beef comes from other countries, reaching an import value of over US$900 million.

Beef consumption in Malaysia is made up of meat derived from cattle and buffalo and it is the third most consumed livestock product with per capita consumption of around 6.5kg.

The domestic supply of meat is fulfilled by importation mainly from India, Thailand, Australia, Spain, Brazil and New Zealand. Live cattle are usually imported from Australia and Thailand. Indian imports are lower priced than local beef while Australian and New Zealand beef are a major source of quality halal meat.

Milk and Dairy Imports

Almost all dairy product ingredients are imported, including nonfat and whole milk powder, whey, and other dairy solids. With a significant increase in consumption, local production is not able to meet demand.
These imported products are then used to produce sweetened condensed milk, yogurt, and reconstituted fluid milk.

Malaysia’s imports of all types of milk, cream and cheese and dairy products have also increased significantly year-to-year, reaching US$867 million in 2023.

New Zealand, U.S., Germany and Australia are major suppliers for milk dairy products.

Grains and grain products

According to Malaysia’s Agriculture and Food Security Minister, Mohamad Sabu, grains and grains products were the food imports with the highest value last year, reaching US$ 2.26 billion. There are plans to increase the local production of white rice in the next five years, but imports will still be crucial.

The main countries from which Malaysia imports cereals in 2023 were Argentina, with US$ 743 million, Australia, with US$ 385 million and Brazil, with US$ 275 million. Pakistan and Vietnam are the other exporters in the top 5.

Cocoa and Sugar

Malaysia is the largest cocoa processor in Asia, but it relies on the importation of most of the raw ingredients. Thus, 95% of cocoa beans are imported, having an import value of US$1.49 billion.

Major suppliers being in 2023 were Côte d’lvoire, Ecuador, Nigeria, Ghana and Peru.

Indonesian cocoa is suitable for blending with Malaysian cocoa and is the proximity of the supplier is a plus.  On the other hand, cocoa from Côte d’lvoire and Ghana are used to produce premium chocolate products.

In the sugar and sweeteners categories, mainly used for confectionery, the import value reached US$1.41 billion.The top suppliers are: Brazil, Thailand, India, China and South Africa.


Chop Tong Guan
Address: 1148, Jalan Perindustrian Bukit Minyak 4, Bukit Mertajam
Phone: 006045057222

G & K Food
Address: 8, Jalan Temenggong 10, Taman Ungku Tun Aminah, Johor Bahru
Phone: 006075591580

Sai Kim Group
Address: No.7, Jalan Bp 4/5, Kawasan Industri, Bandar Bukit Puchong
Phone: 0060380601888

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