Window of Opportunity

In the midst of gentrification after decades of stability and industrial growth, Australia’s tenth-largest trading partner is a promising prospect for growing food and beverage businesses. Here’s a snapshot of the Malaysian market:

What makes Malaysia so attractive? Why should I select it?

  • Gross Domestic Product of AUD$386 billion in 2016
  • Growth rate of 4.2% in the same year
  • Middle class and disposable incomes rising
  • Urbanised population increasing
    • 75% of the county’s 31+ million residents now live within urban area
    • Of those 31+ million, Australian expatriates number approximately 5,215

How would my product fit with this market?

  • Information about healthy eating is more actively sought as Malaysia’s overall quality of life becomes challenged by chronic disease
    • A recent rise in heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity across the country
    • Young adults in particular (a rapidly growing segment of the population) are gaining in awareness and becoming more willing to try healthy alternatives
    • Due to urbanisation, health campaigns (government and NGO-led) impact more people, more quickly
  • The market is already showing signs of change: e.g. a 6.1% growth in the value of organic beverages over the past year

What should I know, if I decided to connect with the Malaysian market?

  • Convenience stores are a common way for customers to buy their groceries
  • Modern retailers are gaining popularity over traditional grocers
    • This creates an opportunity for the newer stores to thrive
  • The market has also seen a shift to internet retailing, especially for its young adult working demographic
    • This change is reflected in a 15% value growth (in 2016)
  • Foodservice has seen many operators closing down, but not all
    • Those still in the market have not seen a change to their sales rate
  • Using a distributor will achieve the widest reach to Malaysian buyers, but is also the most expensive way to get into the market
    • Major supermarkets are often the only ones happy to buy products directly

For Australian food and beverage businesses, selecting the right market can sometimes seem like a daunting guessing game. When presented with so many markets, which should we go with? Timing, sometimes, is of utmost importance; and for the Malaysian market, growing steadily as it is, it represents a real window of opportunity.