Malaysia flag Malaysia: Buying and Selling

The distribution network in Malaysia

Evolution of the Sector
Malaysia has a large and growing food retail market supplied by local and imported products. The Malaysia food retail sector was estimated at USD 18 billion in 2020, and is projected to grow 30% to USD 23 billion by 2025 (USDA). According to Statista, revenue in the food market amounted to USD 46.78 billion in 2022. Malaysia’s supermarket sales saw a 10% decrease to USD 1.5 billion in 2021, due to the pandemic and associated lockdowns (USDA).

The Malaysia food retail industry is comprised of a range of large supermarkets/hypermarkets, convenience stores, “mom and pop” traditional stores, and specialty retailers. Large food retail stores such as supermarkets, hypermarkets and department stores that also operate supermarkets within the premises are generally located in the major cities, urban centres and larger towns in Malaysia, where most middle to high income consumers reside. Major food retailers usually operate chain stores strategically located to capture target consumers. Convenience stores and petrol station stores are mainly found in the cities, larger towns and along the North-South highway. The majority of these stores are franchise operations with support from their franchisers in the form of advertising support, staff training, financing, bulk purchasing and distribution facilities.

Traditional stores continue to make up the largest number of food retailers in Malaysia today. They are commonly found in all the cities, towns and villages in Malaysia. They are made up of open-fronted grocery stores in shop houses or in the dry markets. This sub-sector is dominated by small family-run businesses and target the price sensitive consumers as well as those who seek convenience for a small number of grocery items and other daily essentials. These retail stores generally carry local traditional and Asian products and some branded products with a small number of the more popular imported ones. In 2019, the Consumer Economic Shop Initiative (i-KeeP) was launched by the government in order to sell essential items at a reasonable price, in cooperation with large retail players such as Tunas Manja Group (TMG), KK Supermart & Superstore Sdn Bhd (KK Super Mart) and Big Supermart Sdn Bhd (BIG Supermart).

With a Muslim population of more than 60%, the demand for halal foods by Malaysian consumers has increased over the years. Foreign meat (except pork) and poultry plants intending to export to Malaysia must be accredited by the Malaysian Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) and the Department of Islamic Development for halal purposes. In addition to poultry and meat products, eggs and dairy products are now required to be halal certified, as well as all food products and ingredients. Malaysian halal standards are perceived as stricter than those of other Islamic countries, and products with halal certificates are perceived to have added marketing value in Malaysia.
A growing e-commerce marketplace has resulted in major supermarkets offering online services as a convenience to their customers. Moreover, many Malaysian supermarkets are now offering in-store dining facilities.

Market share
In urban and suburban areas of Malaysia, consumers do most of their food and drink shopping in traditional grocery retailers outlets located within their immediate neighbourhood. The supermarket retail sector in Malaysia is dominated by five key players:

  • Dairy Farm Group, the largest food retailer in Malaysia in terms of sales as well as number of retail outlets. It operates hypermarkets and supermarkets nationwide under the Giant, Cold Storage and Jason's brands. The Giant supermarkets and hypermarkets are known as a home-grown trusted brand. Giant is well-known to local shoppers as the store that offers the best value-for-money products. Giant targets the mass market and is the largest supermarket chain in Malaysia. Cold Storage and Jason's target the upper middle to high income shoppers as well as high income expatriates residing in Malaysia. It carries a wide variety of local products as well as imported products;
  • Mydin Mohamed Holdings, which operates Mydin supermarkets;
  • Trendcell Sdn Bhd, the fastest growing premium food retailer in Malaysia. It operates under the brand Jaya Grocer supermarkets;
  • Village Grocer Holdings, which operates under the brands Village Grocer and Ben's Independent Grocer supermarkets;
  • AEON Malaysia, which operates under several formats: AEON, AEON Big, and AEON MaxValu supermarkets/hypermarkets. AEON bought Carrefour Malaysia in 2012 and renamed it to AEON Big;

7-Eleven is the largest convenience store chain operating 24-hour stores. 7-Eleven stores are treated like car race pit stops by children, teenagers and young adults who usually shop for magazines, newspapers, candies, crisps and other snacks, ice cream or other single-serve food and beverages consumed "on-the-go".

Retail Sector Organisations
Malaysia Retailers Association
Ministry of International Trade and Industry

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Latest Update: November 2022

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