BMC Food Industries (B) Sdn Bhd, PDS Abattoir Sdn Bhd (PDS) and Royal Brunei Culinary Sdn Bhd (RBC) have signed agreements to enter Sabah, marking the first commercial-scale export of processed F&B products from the Sultanate to the East Malaysian state.

The agreements were signed on Thursday at the Brunei pavilion of the Sabah International Expo (SIE) at the Sabah International Convention Centre.

Sabah Industrial Development and Entrepreneurship Minister Phoong Jin Zhe witnessed the signings along with Brunei’s Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT) and Board Member of the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) and Darussalam Enterprise (DARe) Hjh Tutiaty Hj Abd Wahab, and BEDB and DARe Acting CEO Daniel Leong.

Jetsin Sdn Bhd (Jetsin), a leading distributor and retailer from Sabah specialising in halal frozen food, signed agreements with three Brunei businesses for the distribution of their products: PDS processed meat products, RBC frozen food products, and BMC non-canned processed meat and OEM corned beef.

Meanwhile Moh Heng Company Sdn Bhd, one of the largest distributors of fast-moving consumer goods in East Malaysia, also signed to distribute BMC products as well as corned beef from their sister company TGT Sdn Bhd.

  • jetsin signing with rbc
  • jetsin signing with pds
  • moh heng signing with bmc
  • jetsin signing with bmc

The introduction between the Brunei businesses and Sabah-based distributors were made by DARe and MPRT with the Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), who are jointly organising SIE with the Sabah State Government and the Federation of Sabah Industries (FSI).

Leong said DARe and MPRT worked closely with the businesses and the related authorities to meet the requirements needed to facilitate the export, which he hopes will serve as validation to other Brunei businesses to fulfill their export ambitions.

“These export agreements are a noteworthy achievement by our businesses and we are working towards facilitating more exports for businesses by building up their internal capabilities, developing their products and services and connecting them to foreign business partners,” he said.

“SIE specifically has been a strategic platform for our businesses to not only explore the Sabah market, but opportunities in the wider BIMP-EAGA region (Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area).”

BMC fulfills decade-old target

BMC MD Tan (centre R) speaking with Sabah Industrial Development and Entrepreneurship Minister Phoong (centre L).

As the largest privately-owned processed meat products manufacturer in Brunei, the signing represents the fulfillment of a more than a decade-old target of commercially exporting to East Malaysia.

BMC Assistant Managing Director Tan Ka Wei said that through Moh Heng, their canned corned beef is now available in Sabah stores including Bataras and Servay Premier. Two options are available: the more premium BMC brand made solely from beef, and a more affordable beef and soy protein blend under the TGT brand.

Meanwhile Jetsin will sell their reformed beef rashers, as well as another brand of their in-house corned beef called Premium Linked, which is targeted as a ready-to-eat item for campers, military and outdoor enthusiasts.

“COVID-19 put a stop to our plan to export to Sabah and Sarawak; so this export is considered our first shipment and we plan to increase the range available. At the same time we are looking to further expand into the West Malaysia market,” said Tan, whose father is BMC’s Managing Director.

“We are confident in the market response and demand; we know previously even there were many people re-selling our products to Miri for example (individually and unofficially, without distribution agreement) with a significant markup.”

Moh Heng’s Manager for Sabah David Soon said they agreed to become their distributor following a visit to BMC’s factory in Brunei.

“We are very impressed with their high standard of production processes and the good quality of ingredients used.  We believe there is great potential for their products not only in the East Malaysia market but also in the international market as well,” he said.

BMC and TGT products being stocked at Bataras Marketplace in Suriah Sabah.

RBC’s diversification into frozen-ready meals gains pace

With the setting up of Brunei’s largest central kitchen in 2020, the government-owned RBC planned to begin manufacturing processed and frozen F&B products for local retail supply.

Their trajectory was accelerated with COVID-19, which saw imports jeopardised. RBC debuted their frozen-ready meals line in the last quarter of 2021 with six products which has now grown to 15 products – nine of which meet the requirements for export.

“The signing is a major milestone because it is the first time in nearly 49 years (since the start of the company) that RBC is producing goods to be exported overseas. COVID was a catalyst for us to start producing frozen goods locally, and with the help of DARe and MPRT we have gone even further into export,” said RBC General Manager Hj Jeff Hadiman Dato Paduka Hj Danial.

“What this exercise has taught is how to get the (export) process done; the approvals, the tests, so the team is now more confident in going to other places as well.”

A staff from Jetsin stocking their freezer  in Bandaran Berjaya with RBC products.
A staff from Jetsin stocking their freezer in Bandaran Berjaya with RBC products.

Under their agreement, RBC will begin exporting five pastry products: batik cake, mini croissants, chocolate twist, chocolate twist, chocolate danish and pain aux raisin. Bulk packaging for these products for the food service and hotel industries is also expected to be exported shortly.

RBC Business Development Executive Elvin Lim said the exportable range has been optimized for a 12-month shelf-life through research and development conducted by Universiti Teknologi Brunei under the Food Development and Innovation for Enterprises initiative.

“The buzz our batik cake has been getting here at SIE and the sales through Jetsin makes us optimistic that we can do well in this market,” added Hj Jeff.

Visitors trying out RBC pastry products at their booth at the Brunei pavilion at SIE.
Visitors trying out RBC pastry products at their booth at the Brunei pavilion at SIE.

PDS targets exporting 10 products by year’s end

Brunei’s largest cattle abattoir is targeting to expand its frozen and processed export range to Sabah from three to 10 products by the year’s end.

PDC General Manager Hj Sabirin Othman said their site in Kg Batang Mitus, Tutong, which houses feedlotting, slaughtering and meat processing operations has been built up over the years in preparation for export.

Their processing plant has halal and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) certifications and primarily utilises fresh beef slaughtered on-site. The initial three products for export are amongst PDS’ most sellable locally: corned beef, beef burgers, garlic beef sausages.

Jetsin Managing Director Datuk Koh Chung Jade said he agreed to become PDS’ distributor following sampling their corned beef.

“I was very impressed with their product, very tasty, so I pushed to become their sole distributor for the whole of Sabah,” he said. “This way I can push the brand wholly, also in Labuan where I feel the products can do well with the big expatriate population.”

Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Hajiji Noor giving the thumbs up after trying products from PDS' booth at the Brunei pavilion at SIE.
Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Hajiji Noor giving the thumbs up after trying products from PDS’ booth at the Brunei pavilion at SIE.

Hj Sabirin said the Sabah agreement also acts as a seal of approval that the company is ready for exports elsewhere.

“The signing is crucial because with it we can confidently say: PDS is open for exports,” he said. “It is a testament to the support of DARe, MPRT, in their business matching and export facilitation. To achieve this is not a single process, but a continuous engagement and throughout there was a constant refence to the various authorities to make the collaobration possible.”

Now a fully government-owned company, PDS’ core business is importing live cattle for slaughter, which complements the availability of imported frozen beef for Brunei residents.

When frozen imports were affected during the height of COVID-19, PDS drastically raised live imports and effectively became the near sole supplier of beef and lamb in the country as part of the government’s national food security initiative.

PDS also began a feedlotting programme of Australian cattle, a process of importing younger cattle which are then grown through an intensive feeding phase for several months before slaughter. With frozen meat imports into Brunei now returning to full swing, PDS is able to accelerate its export plans.