Foreigners get a taste for food investment

Myanmar Industries Association (MIA) plans to support foreign investment in food production joint ventures as they apply for permission to set up in the coming months, said its chair U Zaw Min Win.

The food industry has been picking up steam on the heels of entry by large international companies including American drink makers Pepsi and Coca-Cola, as well as Unilever from Europe and Thailand’s CP Livestock, he said.

Several more international firms have submitted proposals to the Myanmar Investment commission through MIA this year, mainly for soft drinks as well as farmed and seafood goods.

“Investment in the local food industry is essential, especially as local companies should not import products which are not safe,” he said.

Although Myanmar has extensive agricultural capabilities, many local producers have trouble gaining domestic market share, he said. About 70 percent of edible products are imported, though they often come through border areas without proper testing or Food and Drug Administration approval.

The government banned imports of some food items including edible oils, chewing gum and noodles in 1997, but relaxed the ban two years ago partly to stem illegal sales. Imports of some products such as liquor, cigarettes and tobacco are still restricted or prohibited, with certain exceptions.

There are nearly 30,000 registered food manufacturers with combined approved investment of about US$4 billion, according to figures from the Myanmar Investment Commission.


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