Megat Iskandar, Trade Commissioner of Malaysia to the UAE

Malaysian companies under the national trade promotion agency, MATRADE is all set to participate in the world’s largest F&B show, Gulfood in Dubai. A total of 82 Malaysian companies will take centre stage at the 5-day event showcasing frozen foods such as ready-to-eat meals, spiced fish and chicken, ethnic or traditional cuisine, instant powdered juice, food ingredients, beverages, confectionary, sauces, healthy and organic foods among others.

The UAE’s vibrant economy and growing tourism sector has created a strong appetite for diverse international cuisines. Malaysian halal food with its unique blend of flavours and spices, is becoming increasingly popular in the UAE.

Malaysia’s exports of processed food to the UAE has been steadily increasing, indicating the increasing acceptance of Malaysia’s food products in overseas market. In 2023, food exports to UAE reached Dh460.4 million contributed mainly by products such as cocoa and cocoa preparations, prepared cereals and flour preparations, processed seafood and dairy products. “Stringent quality of Malaysian products coupled with demand for healthy and functional food has contributed to the sterling trade performance,” according to Megat Iskandar, Trade Commissioner of Malaysia to the UAE.

Malaysia is moving towards organic farming. Besides organic products, health foods include low caloric, fibre/nutrient enriched products, fruit juices and herbal products. New products using Malaysia’s traditional herbs and resources are continuously being developed for global markets. “Today’s consumers seek convenience, variety, and healthier options. To meet these changing demands, Malaysian companies are encouraged to stay abreast of consumer trends and prioritise customer feedback.”

Reducing plastic usage has become a significant priority as the world moves toward a more sustainable future. With its extensive reliance on single-use plastics, the Malaysian food and beverage industry is continuously looking out for innovative solutions to reduce its environmental footprint including embracing biodegradable packaging materials, promoting recycling, and encouraging customers to adopt reusable containers.

Along with the conventional retail sector, e-commerce in the UAE is growing rapidly, providing new channels for Malaysian food producers to reach consumers. “Malaysian companies are keen to take advantage of this growing sector,” according to Iskandar.

A number of SMEs will be participating in this year’s Gulfood show. With an extensive range of export-ready F&B products, Malaysian SMEs are ready to penetrate the global market. In pursuit of business expansion, MATRADE continues to assist SMEs to become new exporters and to scale up the existing exporters through various facilitation initiatives, including capacity-building programmes, exporters’ customised programmes, and various trade promotion activities, according to Iskandar.