Department of State Development

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Your questions answered 1 April 2020

Infant formula in Malaysia is generally categorized into four groups, namely infant formula, follow-up formula, formulated milk powder for children, and special formula (special dietary/medical purposes).

Malaysia’s infant food market has been on an upward trend, especially in terms of value which has risen sharply over the past few years. The total volume sold in 2016 was 12% higher than in 2010 and value in 2016 was 96.5% higher than in 2010, which is equivalent to an increase of 71% at constant 2010 prices. The total baby food sector (including infant formula) was worth at approximately RM2.6 Billion (AUD$ 952 Million) in 2018 (source from Malaysian Competition Commission Market Study 2019).

The infant formula industry has a high barrier to entry, mainly due to cost barriers and stringent regulatory requirements surrounding infant food products. Furthermore, the infant formula industry in Malaysia is dominated by few key multinational brands that are engaged in producing and importing a range of dairy products.

Mainstream brands accounted for 66% of the sales volume of infant formula in 2018 while premium brands account for 58% of the sales value. However, premium brand has been growing at a faster rate compared to the mainstream brand, especially in terms of sales value. Hence there is a trend towards ‘premiumisation’, driving increased spending and prices of infant formula.

The source of infant formula is obtained through 3 methods, either through local manufacturing, importation of finished product or importation of formulated powder in bulk which is then packaged locally. The local dairy sector, including infant formula manufacturing, is highly reliant on the import of raw materials, especially dairy ingredients which are usually imported from countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Netherlands.

All infant formula in the market, including the mainstream brands meet the minimum nutritional requirements under the Food Regulations 1985. Market players are prohibited from undertaking any marketing or promotional activities of infant formula.

For more information, please contact Adil Akbar, Senior Business Development Manager (Investment and Trade) for South Australia at adil.akbar@austrade.gov.au

The answer to this question is divided into two parts – frontliners, and the general market (which the public have to rely on).

Frontliners
According to the latest statement by the Health Ministry on 8 April 2020, there is no shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontliners, but there are logistical challenges in distributing them to hospitals that need them the most. In early April, donations of medical equipment coming from China including 50,000 PPEs and half a million masks had addressed Malaysia’s shortage of protective gear. The government has also made additional orders of 10 million face masks that are currently being shipped from China, and these will be reserved for Health Ministry frontliners.

Many companies are making donations to the government to purchase medical equipment for hospitals to combat the contagion. This is the result after there were numerous anecdotes (including via pictures and videos) of insufficient PPE for frontliners, to the extent that nurses and hospital assistants had to make “makeshift” protection gear from garbage bags, hair bands, sponges and more. Emphatic Malaysians immediately came forward in droves to contribute in cash and kind, and many volunteers are also manufacturing PPE for the frontliners. On social media, groups of people used their ingenuity to manufacture plastic face shields, including by using 3D printers.

By the end of April 2020, the new total number of ventilators could be 1,670 at hand (public and private hospitals), plus an extra 1,000 (new orders and donations) from China. Please note that the numbers of total ventilators vary based on different official sources, as there are invasive non and non-invasive types. As of 9 April 2020, there are 45 COVID-19 patients on ventilators from a total of 76 COVID-19 patients in ICU.

General Market
According to the latest statement by the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry on 8 April 2020, face mask supplies in the market have improved to 25% compared to just 4% a week ago. Despite the increase, there is still insufficient supply to meet market demand. Demand for face masks nationwide, including for hospitals, is estimated to be at 5 million pieces per day, but local producers can only supply about 1.1 million pieces a day, with the remainder needing to be imported, mostly from China. The government has set a maximum retail selling price of RM1.50 per piece for the three-ply mask.

The government announced on 8 April 2020 that they will soon be distributing free face masks to Malaysians nationwide. A total of 24.62 million face masks are in the process of being distributed by the authorities to all households, with each household to receive four face masks nationwide.

Supplies of hand sanitisers are also up in the market to almost 60%, as at 8 April 2020.

According to the Higher Education Ministry advisory note on 3rd April 2020, Malaysians studying overseas should stay put, wherever they are, in view of the COVID-19 global pandemic. This applies to all students, whether government or privately sponsored. However, the Ministry also clarified that despite its stand that no student should return at this point in time, students are not actually banned from returning, but they do so at their and their family’s own risk, responsibility, and liability. However, this does not apply to Malaysian students who are stranded, it said, adding that Wisma Putra (Malaysia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry) together with the National Disaster Management Agency, Health Ministry, National Security Council, and foreign embassies are working on bringing them home.

 

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