KOTA KINABALU: Food and Beverage entrepreneurs in Sabah have the potential to go international, said Department of Industrial Development and Research director Patrick Tan Su Teck.
He said Sabah has shown a positive trade balance in 2016 with total exports amounting RM41.4 billion and total imports of RM28.96 billion.
“With the government embarking on a number of logistics projects that includes the expansion of the Sepanggar Bay Container Port to be the transshipment hub of Sabah and also the ongoing works for the Trans Borneo Highway, it would certainly improve, I believe, the trading between the areas within Borneo and also in the region.
“Sabah’s economy has seen encouraging growth of 4.7% in 2016. No doubt this is in part contributed by 5.7% growth in the F&B sector per se, with a notable economic value of RM15 billion for both products and services combined for Sabah alone,” said Tan when officiating the Federation of Sabah Industries (FSI) inaugural Sabah International F&B Expo 2017 opening ceremony at Suria Sabah Shopping Mall here yesterday.
“The latest 2017 Q2 economic figures have seen private consumption expenditure growing 7/15, which reflects higher consumption on food and non-alcoholic beverages plus services; pointing to a promising future ahead for the industry,” he added.
Meanwhile, FSI president Datuk Mohd Basri Abd Gafar said the state tourism influx had changed the landscape of business in Sabah.
He added that outlets today are filled with local SME products tailored for the tourists.
“That (further tourist influx) would have a tremendous effect on the SME industries, especially the F&B sector,” said Basri.
“So we must brace for these opportunities, for tourists in Sabah that want tourist products. These opportunities will abound for SMEs in Sabah,” he added.
Basri also urged the SMEs and FSI members to take advantage of the e-commerce platform, Alibaba.com, as the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) is giving out a RM5,000 subsidy for the over RM6,000 platform registration fees.
“Alibaba.com is the biggest e-commerce platform in the world in capacity and size, bigger than e-Bay and Amazon combined,” he said.
“I was told by the representative from Alibaba, the top country being searched by buyers throughout the world is Malaysia on the platform and the number one product being searched is F&B,” shared Basri.
A total of 50 SMEs occupied the expo’s 40 booths, which had initially planned to involve only 20 booths.
Participants not only originated from Sabah but also Indonesia, Brunei and Korea.