Malaysia is strategically located in Southeast Asia and thus benefits from international trade, partly because it shares maritime boundaries with Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia and Brunei.
A federal constitutional monarchy, the country’s official national language is Malaysian. In practice, however, Malaysia’s citizens widely use English in business communications and is Malaysia’s de-facto administrative language.
The Malaysian economy is blessed with potential for building global trade relationships. You may be surprised to learn that Malaysia ranks as the world’s 30th richest in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on a Purchasing Power Parity basis.
According to the Official Portal for the Department of Statistics Malaysia, the population of Malaysia was 32.7 million people as of July 2021.
The 100 most valuable consumer products imported into Malaysia in 2020 generated a subtotal US$63.6 billion worth of Malaysian spending. That consumer-specific dollar amount represents 33.6% of the overall value of all goods imported into Malaysia. The Southeast Asian nation’s overall spending on all imports, including raw materials and intermediate products, totaled $189.6 billion.
Among Malaysia’s most valuable consumer products in 2020 are: refined petroleum oils; palm oil; phones including smartphones; computers; coal including solid fuels made from coal; and gold.
Total spending on Malaysia’s top 100 imported consumer products decreased by -10.6% from 2019 to 2020. Malaysia’s top 100 consumer metric exceeded the -7.5% drop for all of Malaysia’s imported goods for the year.
The slowdown in Malaysian spending for imported consumer products fell below the global average decline from 2019 to 2020, which was an average drop of -8.2% for all importing countries around the world.
Among the top 100 consumer products imported by Malaysia, 38 increased in total value from 2019 to 2020 whereas 62 declined.
Changes in Malaysian consumer demand for essential imports offer future opportunities for international suppliers who correctly anticipate which upward or downward trends will continue.
Consumer Products Defined
Economics educator BoyceWire defines a consumer product as a final good or end product that a business creates for consumers to buy. For example, consumers often purchase refined petroleum oil at the gas station while imported crude oil is an intermediate good subject to further processing before being sold to end users.
Although there may be a few wealthy individual buyers, products like turbojets are excluded from the consumer products targeted by this study. That is because turbojets are usually purchased by corporations. In contrast, it is common for a consumer to buy a motorcycle.
Types of Consumer Products
This article focuses on 3 distinct consumer product types.
Convenience Products are easy to access, non-durable, have relatively lower prices and therefore consumers frequently purchase them. Examples of convenience products are food, alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks, and soap.
Shopping Products are not as easily available, involve more time to make a buying decision, are durable and are not bought as often as most convenience products. A great example of a shopping product is a mobile phone where buying the wrong model is a much more expensive mistake than buying a disappointing loaf of bread.
Specialty Products describe another consumer product type. This grey area includes infrequently purchased, expensive, durable and sometimes rare items. Consumers may consider the product’s brand image when making their purchase decisions. Some examples of speciality products are gold, silver, diamonds, jewelry, and branded refrigerators and dishwashers.
Malaysian Consumer Imports Smart List
The searchable marketing intelligence table below showcases Malaysia’s 100 highest-value imported consumer products in descending order. Items were selected at the four-digit Harmonized System tariff classification code level.
The table’s fourth column is labeled YOY for year over year. The fifth column identifies each entry’s consumer product type.
|1||Processed petroleum oils||$13,382,148,000||-23.6%||CP|
|3||Computers, optical readers||$2,537,474,000||-8.3%||SP|
|4||Coal, solid fuels made from coal||$2,301,963,000||-21%||CP|
|7||Computer parts, accessories||$1,718,413,000||-13%||SP|
|8||Lower-voltage switches, fuses||$1,653,808,000||-13.1%||SP|
|10||Electrical converters/power units||$1,276,869,000||+3.8%||SP|
|11||Unrecorded sound media||$1,111,576,000||+16.2%||SP|
|12||Hot-rolled iron/non-alloy steel items||$1,065,243,000||-21.3%||SP|
|18||Other food preparations||$776,294,000||+8.9%||CP|
|19||Sugar (cane or beet)||$763,579,000||+21.2%||CP|
|20||Miscellaneous plastic items||$730,458,000||-3.8%||CP|
|23||Miscellaneous iron or steel items||$608,509,000||-4.5%||SP|
|25||Liquid crystal/laser/optical tools||$586,286,000||+19.4%||SY|
|28||Rubber tires (new)||$510,486,000||-14.1%||SP|
|29||Malt extract, food preparations||$493,576,000||+12.9%||CP|
|33||Coconut, palm kernel or babassu oil||$454,022,000||+32.2%||CP|
|35||Electric water heaters, hair dryers||$420,101,000||-2.4%||SY|
|36||Miscellaneous precious metals items||$419,323,000||+28.7%||SY|
|37||Electric storage batteries||$415,876,000||-15.3%||SY|
|38||Miscellaneous textile items||$408,118,000||+446.7%||SP|
|40||Screws, bolts, washers, hooks, pins||$380,843,000||-3.6%||SP|
|41||Cases, handbags, wallets||$370,314,000||-26.3%||SP|
|42||Plastic packing goods, lids, caps||$367,373,000||-0.1%||CP|
|47||Onions, garlic, leeks||$333,843,000||+10%||CP|
|48||Other organic cleaning preparations||$324,621,000||+0.8%||CP|
|51||Miscellaneous aluminum items||$307,980,000||+2.9%||SP|
|52||Packaged insecticides, herbicides||$256,075,000||+22.1%||SP|
|53||Uncoated paper for writing/printing||$253,268,000||-28.7%||CP|
|55||Whole fish (frozen)||$245,600,000||-1.7%||CP|
|56||Seats (not barber/dentist chairs)||$244,438,000||-20%||SP|
|57||Vulcanized rubber items||$225,194,000||+25.6%||SP|
|58||Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs)||$224,973,000||-43.7%||CP|
|60||Wrist/pocket watches (precious case)||$211,921,000||-9.7%||SP|
|61||Sheep or goat meat||$209,221,000||+27.5%||CP|
|62||Magnets including electro-magnets||$202,090,000||+1.2%||SY|
|67||Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries||$176,084,000||+10.8%||CP|
|68||Special hand/machine tools||$174,685,000||-0.3%||SY|
|69||Special garments including sports||$169,871,000||-10.1%||SP|
|70||Whole fish (fresh)||$165,838,000||-9.4%||CP|
|71||Ginger, tumeric, thyme, curry||$164,988,000||+82.4%||CP|
|76||Fresh or dried citrus fruit||$156,441,000||-6.9%||CP|
|77||Sauces, mixed condiments, seasoning||$155,986,000||+4.4%||CP|
|78||T-shirts, vests (knit or crochet)||$155,898,000||-24.9%||SP|
|79||Household base metal mountings||$155,693,000||-13.4%||SY|
|81||Apples, pears (fresh)||$152,700,000||-1.5%||CP|
|82||Prepared glues, adhesives||$150,417,000||-2.8%||SP|
|83||Cabbages, cauliflowers, kale||$146,203,000||+18.6%||CP|
|85||Soap, organic surface-active goods||$143,967,000||+8.6%||SP|
|87||Crustaceans (including lobsters)||$142,691,000||-7.3%||CP|
|88||Fish fillets, pieces||$139,651,000||-5.5%||CP|
|89||Paper containers, cellulose wadding||$138,301,000||-19.2%||SP|
|92||Shaving preparations, deodorants||$133,393,000||-1.6%||SP|
|94||Dishwash, clean/dry/fill machines||$132,746,000||-14.4%||SY|
|96||Miscellaneous preserved fruits||$127,408,000||-1.1%||CP|
|97||Wrist/pocket watches (regular case)||$126,418,000||-22.8%||SP|
|98||Women's clothing (not knit/crochet)||$125,933,000||-29.2%||SP|
|99||Chocolate, other cocoa preparations||$125,602,000||-22.7%||CP|
|100||Vulcanized rubber apparel||$123,920,000||+102.7%||SP|
Malaysia’s most popular product type is shopping products (SP) led by imported phones, computers, automobile parts or accessories, computer parts or accessories, and lower-voltage switches and fuses. Shopping products represent 41 of the top 100 Malaysian imported consumer goods.
Close behind in second place via 40 items are convenience products (CP), articles that are bought routinely, used only once and generally require less thinking time before making a buying decision. Examples include refined petroleum oils, coal including solid fuels made from coal, medications, cocoa beans, corn, miscellaneous food preparations, and sugar.
There were 19 speciality products (SY) ranking among Malaysia’s top 100 imported consumer goods. Major speciality products imported into Malaysia include gold, liquid crystal, laser or optical tools, liquid pumps, electric water heaters, miscellaneous items made with precious metals, electric storage batteries and jewelry.
Durable consumer products are goods like cars, trucks, printing machinery, insulated wire or cable, and furniture that last a relatively long time. Consumers can put durable products to use again and again. By product type, note that both shopping products and speciality products are considered as durable consumer goods.
Non-durable consumer products (ND) are goods that are not re-used once consumed. Coal, medications, sugar and corn are examples of non-durable goods. Convenience products are uniquely non-durable consumer products.
Based on the product types identified in the above table, 60 of Malaysia’s highest-value consumer imported products are durable while 40 are classified as non-durable.
Using the provided table, you can also peruse the greatest increases or decreases in product values from 2019 to 2020. To do so, click on the heading of the fourth column.
Fastest-Growing Consumer Imports
Listed below are the top 10 consumer products imported into Malaysia that experienced the highest percentage increases in spending from 2019 to 2020.
- Miscellaneous textile items: Up 446.7% (US$408.1 million)
- Vulcanized rubber apparel: Up 102.7% ($123.9 million)
- Ginger, tumeric, thyme, curry, other spices: Up 82.4% ($165 million)
- Miscellaneous furniture: Up 52.9% ($709.5 million)
- Coconut, palm kernel or babassu oil: Up 32.2% ($454 million)
- Rice: Up 30.2% ($589.5 million)
- Miscellaneous items with precious metals: Up 28.7% ($419.3 million)
- Cheese, curd: Up 28.4% ($163.9 million)
- Pasta, couscous: Up 27.8% ($180.7 million)
- Sheep or goat meat: Up 27.5% ($209.2 million)
Three among the above top 10 gainers are shopping goods and therefore also durable goods that consumers can re-use over time. This trio of fastest-growing products in demand by importers in Malaysia are miscellaneous textile items, vulcanized rubber apparel and miscellaneous furniture.
The fastest growing import that is also a speciality good are miscellaneous items made with precious metals. The 6 non-durable imported consumer products that lead in sales growth fall into the following subcategories: ginger, tumeric, thyme, curry and similar spices; coconut, palm kernel or babassu oil; rice; cheese including curd; pasta and couscous; and sheep or goat meat.
Worst-Declining Consumer Imports
Spending by import buyers in Malaysia on the following 10 items decreased in value by the highest percentages from 2019 to 2020.
- Cars: Down -48.9% ($1.05 billion)
- Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs): Down -43.7% ($225 million)
- Trucks: Down -43% ($491.6 million)
- Textile footwear: Down -30.1% ($159.2 million)
- Nitrogenous fertilizers: Down -29.5% ($155.6 million)
- Women’s clothing (not knit/crochet): Down -29.2% ($125.9 million)
- Uncoated paper for writing/printing: Down -28.7% ($253.3 million)
- Beauty, makeup, and skin care goods: Down -27.5% ($349.2 million)
- Jewelry: Down -26.5% ($388.1 million)
- Cases, handbags, wallets: Down -26.3% ($370.3 million)
Five categories among Malaysian top 10 severest decliners are durable shopping products used over a period of time. The worst slippage among those categories was for Malaysia’s imported cars, trucks and textile footwear.
The strongest declines for the 3 durable speciality goods belong to nitrogenous fertilizers, items classified as beauty, makeup or skin care, and jewelry. Malaysia’s major import decliner from 2019 to 2020 among non-durable convenient products were alcoholic beverages including spirits and liqueurs, and uncoated paper used for writing, printing or both.
Key Suppliers by Country
This analysis reveals competitive suppliers that target demand for 5 of Malaysia’s top consumer import products.
Malaysia’s biggest imported consumer product by value is processed petroleum oils. The other 4 leading consumer goods imported into Malaysia are phones, computers, coal and gold.
Below, you will find major supplying countries for Malaysia’s imported:
Processed petroleum oils: Singapore (29.3% of total), China (13.2%), South Korea (10.5%), India (8.9%), United Arab Emirates (7.9%), Saudi Arabia (4.5%), Indonesia (3.9%), Japan (2.3%), Taiwan (1.6%), and Iraq (also 1.6%).
Phone devices including smartphones: China (45.4% of total), Hong Kong (16.2%), Singapore (11.2%), Vietnam (5.7%), United States (4.8%), Indonesia (4.3%), Thailand (2.3%), Taiwan (1.8%), Mexico (1.2%), and Japan (1.1%).
Computers: China (59.5% of total), Singapore (9.8%), Thailand (5.8%), United States (5.1%), Hong Kong (3.2%), Vietnam (3%), Taiwan (2.6%), Hungary (2.1%), Philippines (1.6%), and Japan (1.3%).
Coal: Indonesia (63.2% of total), Australia (26.8%), Russia (6.4%), China (0.8%), United States (0.47%), Colombia (0.46%), Canada (0.42%), Belgium (0.31%), Ireland (0.29%), and New Zealand (0.24%).
Gold: Japan (31.2% of total), South Korea (28.9%), Thailand (21.6%), Indonesia (6.1%), China (3.9%), Belgium (3%), Germany (2%), Philippines (1.2%), Malaysia (0.6%), and United Kingdom (0.5%).
More great research: Malaysia’s Main Imports by Top Supplier Countries, US Top 100 Imported Consumer Products, 100 Most Valuable Imported Consumer Goods to Sell in Turkey, 100 Best Consumer Goods for Selling to Importers in Russia, 100 Top Consumer Goods to Sell to Importers in Brazil, Pakistan’s Top 100 Imported Consumer Products
Independent insights and analysis presented in this article are based on researched facts and statistics sourced from the following educational portals.
BoyceWire, Consumer Goods Definition.
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook: Malaysia Economy.
International Trade Centre, Trade Map.
Richest Country Reports, Top 100 Richest Countries by GDP.
Trading Economics, Malaysia Consumer Spending.
Wikipedia, List of largest consumer markets.
World’s Top Exports, Malaysia’s Top 10 Imports.