Speaking to FoodNavigator-Asia.com, Thomas Brandt, general manager of the Malaysian-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MGCC), explained that the interest in bakery products there has really taken off in the last five to seven years.
Brandt was at a Malaysia-based event last week organised by the International Bakery and Confectionary trade fair, IBA. Four Malaysian companies are expected to take part in the trade fair in 2012, which will be held in Munich.
According to a report released by Euromonitor in 2010, rising disposable incomes and a faster pace of life, which leaves Malaysians short of time but willing to spend more on bakery products, are some of the factors behind the growing trend.
Statistics provided by Euromonitor show that the retail value of all bakery products has increased from £407.2m ($651.3m) in 2006 to £474.5m in 2011.
Furthermore, a major, if not the most important, factor in the development of the bakery industry in Malaysia is the rising influence of the west, and European countries in particular.
One example of this is the Italian Baker Sdn Bhd which has taken inspiration from the Italian baking tradition and created its own sandwich loaf made using wheat germ. The concept has been developed to include a range of breads and goes by the name of Massimo.
Brandt has also noticed that more and more Asian countries are now looking towards Europe to find products that are healthier and which stay fresh for longer.
He said German dark bread, made of rye, is gaining in popularity at the same time as there has been a move away from just simply eating white bread. There is also a notable trend for freshly baked artisanal goods.
However, Brandt finds it “very unusual” that there is no national bakery association for a developed country such as Malaysia. He believes that professional training modules should be implemented in craft trades such as the bakery industry to further “increase knowledge” and thus produce a “greater variety” of baked goods.
Brandt believes that IBA will be a useful platform for the Malaysian bakery industry to learn about new technologies and new processes.
He also thinks that it could “facilitate partnerships” and provide a way for bakery businesses in Malaysia to partner up with European countries to further develop the sector in that country.
Meanwhile the bakery industry is expected to continue to prosper in Malaysia with Euromonitor estimates predicting that the retail value will total around £557.2m by 2016.