HomeUncategorizedMATRADE Chairman inaugurates the Malaysian Pavilion at Gulfood 2024

MATRADE Chairman inaugurates the Malaysian Pavilion at Gulfood 2024


MIHAS 2024 will globally support Malaysian manufacturers

DUBAI: Dato’ Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican, Chairman of Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade), inaugurated Malaysia pavilion at the annual Food Exhibition “Gulfood 2024”. For his important economic, investment and commercial role, and in a way that strengthens economic relations with the UAE, he explained that USD 123 million are his country’s exports of processed foods to the UAE out of USD 3.11 billion total exports. We caught up with the Chairman on Malaysia’s business and economic engagement with the UAE:

Q. Can you share about Malaysia’s participation at Gulfood today?

This year marks our 20th consecutive participation as a country pavilion in the Gulfood show. Our participation in this event is aimed at promoting Malaysia food and beverages products in the GCC as well as MENA region. The demand for Malaysian F&B products in the region has been growing its popularity and consumers worldwide are becoming more health conscious and focused on the nutritional benefits of foods. This global trend creates tremendous new opportunities for food innovations, food safety and organic food.

This year we will feature 80 Malaysian companies and 5 Government agencies promoting snacks, beverages, ready to eat meals, coconut products, corn products, paste and sauces, spices and condiments, biscuits, cookies and others.

Q: What is the volume of trade exchange in the food sector between Malaysia and the UAE?

Malaysia’s exports of processed food to the UAE have been steadily increasing. In 2023, it reached AED460.4 million. Malaysia’s diverse range of processed food offerings, from traditional delicacies to modern and innovative options, give us a competitive edge in the market. As a result, the trade between these two nations has greatly benefited Malaysia’s economy and cemented our position as a leading player in the global processed food trade industry.

Q: What is the importance and status of the UAE for Malaysia in general and in the food products sector in particular?

From vibrant street food stalls to luxurious fine dining restaurants, Malaysia and UAE are two countries that boast a rich and diverse food scene. Both countries have a strong culinary heritage influenced by multicultural populations, making us a haven for food lovers.

Malaysia is known for its unique blend of Malay, Chinese, and Indian flavors. It is a melting pot of cultures, and this is evident in its food. On the other hand, UAE is a hub for international cuisine. With a diverse population from over 200 nationalities, UAE’s food scene is a reflection of its people.

Q: What is your view about the Malaysia and UAE in General and in food industry particularly?

In my opinion, both countries, Malaysia & UAE have a lot to offer to each other, and could definitely increase our bilateral ties through various areas and cooperation.

As the global leader in the Halal industry, we will leverage on Gulfood to promote participation in MIHAS 2024 which will be held from 17-19 September 2024 in MITEC, Kuala Lumpur. MATRADE is confident that with the continuous promotion, Malaysian F&B manufacturers will be able to expand their presence globally.

Q: How are MATRADE plans to increase and support the trade business with UAE and Arab countries?

MATRADE recognizes the immense potential for trade between Malaysia and the UAE and other Arab countries. In line with our commitment to enhance trade relations and facilitate business opportunities, MATRADE has implemented various plans to increase and support trade with these countries.

Firstly, we have established trade offices in key cities such as Dubai, Doha, Jeddah and Cairo to provide on-the-ground support for Malaysian businesses and as well as our importers. We also organize trade missions, business matching, and participate in international trade exhibitions at the same time identify potential trade opportunities and overcome any trade barriers.

Q: What do you think to make Malaysia food products to be popular in the Arab Markets?

Malaysian products especially food & beverages are very well-accepted in the region due to its high-quality and globally accepted halal standards.

Malaysian food is known for its vibrant flavors, rich spices, and diverse cultural influences. From creamy coconut curries to spicy sambal sauces, the cuisine of Malaysia has captured the hearts and taste buds of food lovers all around the world.

The UAE’s diverse population and increasing demand for international food products, the market presents a significant opportunity for Malaysian food products to gain popularity. By understanding the market, adapting to local preferences, and utilizing effective marketing strategies, Malaysian food products can successfully enter the UAE market.

Q: How is the competition in the food industry, and how do you advise would-be new players in the Arabic markets?

With the growing popularity of global cuisine and increasing demand for exotic flavors, the food industry has become a competitive playing field. In recent years, the market has seen a surge in the demand for processed food, especially in the Arabic markets.

This presents a great opportunity for Malaysian new exporters to tap into this market. However, with competition being fierce, it is essential for these would-be exporters to have a strategic approach in order to succeed. The UAE imports 85% of the food it consumes. Based on reports published, UAE major imports source were from India, US, Brazil, UK and France. Within ASEAN, Malaysia is ranked 2nd after Thailand followed by Indonesia, Philippines and Singapore.


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