Working to maintain U.S. pork’s presence in a challenging market was the goal for USMEF at Food and Hotel Malaysia, a biennial trade show held this year in Kuala Lumpur. Funding for the trade show, which offered USMEF and its members opportunities to meet with many Malaysian importers and traders, was provided by the USDA Market Access Program (MAP) and the Pork Checkoff.
On the surface, Malaysia appears to be a prime red meat market, with a population exceeding 30 million. More than 60 percent of that population is Muslim, however, which means opportunities for pork consumption growth are limited.
“Still, pork continues to be very popular among the residents and consumers who do eat it,” said Sabrina Yin, USMEF director in the ASEAN region.
Yin puts Malaysia’s per capita pork consumption at about 17 pounds per year. But when considering the country’s large Muslim population, this means the country’s non-Muslims consume about 43 pounds of pork per year.
To meet Food and Hotel Malaysia’s display requirements, USMEF placed “non-halal” signage at its booth decorated with U.S. pork educational materials. USMEF also had to refrain from providing pork tasting samples.
“So in order to reach the buyers and importers at the show, we invited them to our booth to answer sales inquiries,” said Yin, who noted that Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) was the only other foreign meat organization at this year’s show. MLA’s booth was in the Culinary Competition Hall with a product display of Australian beef and lamb.
Food and Hotel Malaysia’s 2017 edition was held in conjunction with Culinaire Malaysia 2017 and featured more than 1,250 companies from 50 countries. There were 12 country-specific pavilions hosted by the U.S., Algeria, Belgium, China, Japan, Korea, Libya, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Tunisia and Turkey. The show attracted 23,823 trade visitors from 57 countries, an increase of 13 percent compared to the most recent show in 2015.
USMEF distributed educational materials and brochures on U.S. pork and beef and handed out U.S. beef samples to visitors.
Despite significant challenges, Yin sees potential for U.S. pork in Malaysia.
“A growing number of independent restaurants serve Malaysia’s non-halal consumers, including thousands of Chinese establishments,” she said. “We need to keep U.S. pork on the minds of consumers and on the minds of restaurant and foodservice operators. We won’t make huge strides overnight, but we can grow exports of U.S. pork steadily by reminding Malaysians about the quality and the availability of the product.”