Australian fresh produce exporters should consider new opportunities now available in Malaysia, says Austrade.
Malaysia’s growing affluent middle class is driving the demand for greater choice and higher-quality fruits and vegetables.
Susan Kahwati, Austrade’s Senior Trade Commissioner for Malaysia, said Australia has for many years been a source of agrifood for Malaysia.
“In an environment where consumers are becoming increasingly interested in the origins of their food, Australia is well placed to capitalise on its reputation as a source of clean, green and high-quality products,” said Kahwati.
“A new generation of health-conscious consumers is also generating greater demand for natural, organic and fresh foods,” she added. “The trend towards better nutrition is fuelling the establishment of more salad bars, juice bars and healthy home-delivered meal services, which is expected to increase the demand for a more diverse range of fresh fruit and vegetables over time.”
The Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement (MAFTA), which entered into force in January 2013, has created greater market access for Australian produce to this top ten Australian trading destination.
Under MAFTA, Malaysia has guaranteed tariff-free entry for Australian-originating goods on 98.6 per cent of its tariff lines, extending to 98.8 per cent by 2020, and to 98.9 per cent in 2026.
The agreement builds on benefits from the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement, which started for Australia and Malaysia in 2010.
In 2016, the final 22 fruit items that still faced a tariff were eliminated under MAFTA.
Some of these products include pineapples, watermelons, guavas, mangoes, avocados, durians, mangosteens, rambutans, jackfruit, star fruit and bananas.
According to Retail Group Malaysia, 50 per cent of retail food sales are made through organised retail grocery and specialty stores.
The Malaysian retail food and beverage sector is worth US$16 billion and is expected to grow at 6 per cent.
Malaysian households spend an average of 24 per cent of their household income on retail purchase of food.
A version of this article first appeared in the March/April 2016 edition of Vegetables Australia.