ASEAN Focus: Regional news from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and more feature in our round-up

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Regional news from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and more feature in this edition of ASEAN Focus. ©Getty Images
Regional news from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and more feature in this edition of ASEAN Focus. ©Getty Images

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Regional news from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and more feature in this edition of ASEAN Focus.

The spice is right: Nestle Malaysia highlights how hot flavours are driving instant noodle popularity

Nestle Malaysia has revealed how instant noodles have successfully sustained continued popularity throughout the pandemic and beyond due to in-home consumption trends, and long-time favourite brand MAGGI’s ability to innovate within the spicy flavours space.

MAGGI has been a household name in Malaysia – and most of Asia – for decades when it comes to instant noodles, and the brand has also successfully managed to retain its popularity and innovation even throughout the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nestle Malaysia confirmed the instant noodles sector saw a boost during the lockdown period due to the product’s inherent convenience and the rise of in-home consumption locally.

“With prolonged lockdowns and social-distancing rules, there has been increased in-home consumption of convenient food such as instant noodles, as more consumers work and study from home,” ​Geetha Balakrishna, Business Executive Officer, MAGGI, Nestlé (Malaysia) Berhad told FoodNavigator-Asia.

Royal staple: Singapore low-GI basmati brand Sameza seeks to’ disrupt’ North American market

Singapore basmati brand Sameza is looking to place its premium low-GI basmati rice into more supermarkets in the country, as well as enter North America where they believe there is a lack of innovation in the category.

The long-grain rice was first produced by a family mill in India for over 40 years to exclusively feed royal families in India and the Middle East.

The rice was never released to the public until Sameza brought it to Singapore.

This product was only for the royal families of Middle East and India. They had private packaging and would send us their bags, we would fill it up and it would be delivered to them​,” said Bably Bhasin, founder and CEO of Sameza.

Permission to enter: Indonesia looks to tighten processed food import controls

Indonesia is looking to introduce new trade controls on imported processed foods including a revised application process subject to government approval as well as stricter mandatory shelf-life requirements.

The new application process would require food firms looking to bring processed food items into Indonesia to obtain an approved Surat Keterangan Impor (abbreviated as SKI, Import Notification Letter) from Indonsia’s Badan Pengawas Obat dan Makanan (BPOM, National Agency of Drug and Food Control) before being allowed to import any processed foods into the country.

This newest amendment would fall under the 2021 version of the country’s food and drug import law. In the previous 2017 version, processed foods were not specified as part of the import items list required to obtain an SKI for entry – this included drugs, cosmetics, health supplements and certain fresh foods and processing ingredients, but not processed foods.

“There are two types of SKI – the Border version for traditional medicines and drugs or the Post Border version for other items such as health supplements, cosmetics and food – firms importing processed foods would need to apply for the SKI Post Border,”​ stated BPOM via a formal statement.

Palm oil and human rights: Malaysia striving to improve reputation and appease US over labour standards

The palm oil industry in Malaysia is ramping up its efforts to improve labour standards after taking several hits to its reputation and business prospects over the poor handling of human rights issues.

While the palm oil industry as a whole has always faced sustainability debates, Malaysia’s palm oil sector in particular has had more problems with labour than its counterpart in Indonesia due to its extreme dependency on migrant labour, with the vast majority of workers in palm oil plantations coming from foreign countries.

Although such accusations had been floating around for some years, the situation came to a head in late 2020 when the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) placed a detention order on palm oil and related products from Malaysia’s government-linked FGV Holdings Berhad, saying that forced labour was being used to source this palm oil.

The Malaysian Palm Oil Association (MPOA) recently launched a Responsible Employment Charter outlining the commitment of its workers to responsible recruitment and treatment of its workers, based on international guidelines and frameworks.

Collaborating with competitors: Nestle, Coca-Cola and Unilever among major brands uniting to boost recycling in Malaysia

Major brands such as Nestle, Coca-Cola, Mondelez, F&N and Unilever are joining forces to drive the sustainability agenda in Malaysia, via a new alliance that will tackle plastic food and beverage packaging concerns.

The Malaysian Recycling Alliance Berhad (MAREA) wants to reach a minimum recycling rate of 25% of packaging volumes by 2025.

MAREA is Malaysia’s first-ever Extended Producer Responsibility (ERP) association, and is chaired by Nestle Malaysia CEO Juan Aranols. The association was established in January 2021, but only just recently saw its formal launch on January 21 2022.

The alliance’s members comprise of 10 well-known FMCG brands in Malaysia - Coca-Cola, Colgate-Palmolive, Dutch Lady Milk Industries, Etika Group of Companies, F&N Malaysia, Mondelēz International (Malaysia), Nestlé Malaysia, Spritzer, Tetra Pak Malaysia and Unilever Malaysia.

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