Exporting food and beverage to Malaysia: things to consider

I was born in Malaysia, and although I have spent a great proportion of my life in other countries, I still consider it home. When working with clients who are exporting to Malaysia, I find it useful to help them understand the cultural differences that exist.

Being a rich and diverse multicultural society, Malaysia has a rich legacy of cuisine often fueled by international influence. That is why Malaysia is highly dependent on imported food and ingredients.

With Malaysia’s food and beverage sector becoming increasingly sophisticated and influenced by health and convenience trends, the opportunities for Australian companies to enter the market are growing. Here are a few important things to consider before exporting:

Market entry

For most food and beverage products, successful market entry hinges on engaging with a dedicated local importer or distributor in Malaysia. Working closely with your importer/distributor with a marketing plan which includes packaging and brand building strategy is key to long-term success.

Distribution channels

Only licensed importers have the right to import products. Different product categories require different import licence and distribution channels. Most food importers also act as distributors and most imported food and beverages are channeled through importers/distributors who normally distribute direct to retailers and catering end-users.


The five key areas with regulated import requirements in Malaysia are: dairy, meat, wine, fruit and vegetables, fish and seafood. Baker Marketing can help you identify import partners with the necessary licenses and permits to ensure export success.


Australia has a good reputation for quality products and services, and in general, Malaysians would perceive Australian brands to be trustworthy and of premium quality. It is important that the product packaging, language and colours reflect a high-end product. It is also important to make sure that you comply with Malaysian packaging and labelling requirements.

Export areas in which Baker Marketing works with clients include:

  • Crafting a good market entry plan
  • Deciding the most effective distribution channels
  • Working within national regulations
  • Crafting an effective positioning strategy
  • Crafting an effective digital marketing plan

Don’t hesitate to get in touch should you need help in any of these areas.

Image by Christian Junker on Flickr (CC by 2.0)