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Malaysian imports spice up US market

Food and beverage products imported to the US from Malaysia are on the rise, with a record value of $150 million in the first quarter of 2014

Malaysian imports spice up US marketMalaysian food and beverage exports to the US are on the rise in 2014, with a record $150 million brought into the country during the first quarter, according to Malaysia Kitchen USA.

Currently, the US is the fifth-largest trading terminal for Malaysian food exports and ninth largest for Malaysian beverages. To meet demand, Malaysia Kitchen says it plans to increase imports by introducing 300 new products to the US market by 2015.

Malaysia Kitchen USA is a program under the Malaysian External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) and a Malaysian government global initiative that aims to educate and inform consumers about Malaysian cuisine and Malaysian restaurants throughout the world.

The popularity of Malaysian cuisine is growing among US consumers, with the National Restaurant Association naming the cuisine one of the top three trending flavors in the US.

To help with the demand for ingredients and ready-to-prepare meals, Malaysia Kitchen USA says it enlisted chef, author and spice expert Christina Arokiasamy as the Malaysian food ambassador to the US.

“Malaysian food has yet to be fully discovered and explored in the US,” says Arokiasamy. “It is a cuisine comprised of a melting pot of Malay, Indian, Chinese and Nonya cultures, which sounds intimidating to the home cook. But with all-natural, value-driven, easy-to-make and authentic Malaysian food and beverage products becoming more accessible across the country, American families can enjoy flavorful, healthy choices from packet to plate at their convenience.”

During the first quarter of 2014, goods distributed to the US were valued at $141 million, an improvement of 23 percent over the same time frame the previous year.

According to the office of the United States Trade Representative, US goods and services trade with Malaysia was $42 billion in 2012, with imports totaling $27 billion.

Malaysia was the United States’ 17th-largest supplier of goods imports in 2013.

US goods imports from Malaysia increased 5.2 percent in 2013, while US trade imports from Malaysia accounted for 1.2 percent of the overall US imports in 2013.

Agricultural products imported from Malaysia totaled $1.6 billion in 2013, though these were primarily fats and oils. The leading categories included tropical oils at $1.1 billion and cocoa paste and cocoa butter at $131 million.

According to MATRADE, the country’s processed food exports to the US (more than 500 products) accounted for 6 percent of the total Malaysian processed food exports to the world. Experts expect this number will continue to rise.

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