Helping F&B SMEs compete

(From left) O’Carroll, Chua and Jamil exchange
documents at Nestle House in Petaling Jaya.

NESTLE (Malaysia)
recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the Halal Industry
Development Corporation (HDC) and the National Small-Medium Enterprise
Council (Nasmec) to promote the growth of small and medium enterprises
in the food and beverages industry.

Under the agreement, an
e-learning online portal will provide a one-stop education, reference
and solution centre for SMEs, and workshops and seminars will be
offered to upgrade their services and performance in compliance with
international quality standards.

The MoU also marked a new phase
in the Food Industry Mentoring programme jointly organised by Nestlé
and the council since 1999, now to be called the Nestle-Nasmec-HDC
F&B Mentoring Programme.

Nestlé will support the
programme’s funding and promotions, and provide consultation and
expertise for workshops and seminars. The council will be responsible
for the facilitation of the e-learning portal where it will offer
online training, while HDC will provide halal certification and

Nestle Malaysia managing director Sullivan
O’Carroll said the MoU was in line with the company’s corporate social
responsibility effort to share its expertise and provide assistance to
local SMEs in the F&B industry.

“We can help them add value
and raise the quality standards of their products to enable them not
only to compete in the global environment, but also win consumer
confidence in local products,” he said.

O’Carroll said the two
biggest weaknesses in local SMEs are the lack of strong financial
backing and product branding – which the three parties will help

HDC CEO Datuk Seri Jamil Bidin said halal primarily
means the item is clean and safe for all, and not that it is just
suitable for Muslims. “We welcome every SME in Malaysia regardless of
race or religion to come join our programme, and we urge local SMEs to
use our services to help them gain access to the global Muslim market,”
he said.

Nasmec chairman Datuk Chua Jui Meng noted that the
F&B and pharmaceutical industries were the only two sectors which
have managed to remain resilient despite a global economic downturn.

SMEs exported RM6 billion in F&B products last year, they will have
to further improve their quality standards to maintain the confidence
of global customers. What happened in China (melamine food scare) last
year serves as a good lesson for all of us,” he said.