It’s a chance for exporters from countries such as Malaysia to highlight and expand sales of local specialties. One of those products much sought after in China are edible bird nests made from the saliva of the swiftlet species. As Rian Maelzer reports from Kuala Lumpur, demand for the bird nests is surging, but there’s still plenty of room for growth.
Malaysia exports hundreds of tons of edible bird nest a year. By far the biggest market is China, where it’s prized for its purported health benefits.
ALLEN TAN President, Federation of Malaysia Bird Nest Industry Merchants Assn. “Every year we will have minimum of 30 percent of increase. Even during COVID time, still there is still a tremendous amount of demand from China.”
China has stringent requirements for bird nest imports.
CHAN FOONG HIN Malaysian Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food Security “The bird nest industry is under the supervision of DVS, the Department of Veterinary Service, so we always provide the quality control to ensure that the Malaysian birds nest product is at the premium quality and also the customer, definitely is safe to consume it. Apart from the biosecurity part, we also help to facilitate the trade in between Malaysia and the targeted country, mainly China.”
RIAN MAELZER Kuala Lumpur “Currently, nearly all Malaysia’s exports to China are of raw bird nests, even though the country makes a huge array of birds nest products ranging from drinks and deserts, to soaps and face masks.”
ALLEN TAN President, Federation of Malaysia Bird Nest Industry Merchants Assn. “We hope in the near future, more product will be getting approval and we can export directly rather than just selling our product and made in China which we prefer it to be made in Malaysia.”
Aside from man-made structures, bird nests can also be collected from caves, though it’s trickier and riskier do so.
CHAN FOONG HIN Malaysian Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food Security “We are yet to develop the protocol between these two countries on how to export the caves nest to China.”
ALLEN TAN President, Federation of Malaysia Bird Nest Industry Merchants Assn. “Since we have this most natural product, it’s good that we also promote caves nests as one of the alternatives.”
So yet another area of untapped potential demand from China for Malaysia’s raw bird nest and bird nest products, with trade fairs like CICPE an ideal way to try to fulfil that potential.