Supermarket Dairy Farm Giant Retail has undertaken to help small and medium food exporters to understand the processes and export requirements and the expectations of the Hong Kong market, as well as facilitate their exports to Wellcome Supermarkets, for five years, according to the Bernama news agency.

Giant is part of the Dairy Farm Group of Hong Kong, which owns the Wellcome chain.

Domestic trade and consumers affairs minister, Datuk Mohd Shafie Apdal today (Friday) witnessed the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) held at a Wellcome Superstore in Hong Kong.

Signing for Giant was its country manager John Coyle while the SMEs were represented by Mahmood Mohd Nor, president of the Rural Industries Entrepreneurs Chamber.

The MOU signing was held in conjunction with the launch of the 10-day "A Taste of Malaysia" campaign, a joint effort between the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry and Dairy Farm Group to promote Malaysian food products

"Today's MOU represents a first by a private sector corporation, to help tap business opportunities for Malaysian an small and medium-sized enterprises in the vibrant Hong Kong retail market," Mohd Shafie said at the launch.

The MOU, he added, demonstrated the commitment by Giant to support the development of Malaysia's small and medium-sized enterprises to enable them to contribute further to the country's economic growth.

Last month, Giant signed a similar MOU in Kuala Lumpur with the Bumiputera Manufacturers and Services Industry Association of Malaysia to help those interested to develop their potential in the retail sector.

"I am confident that, with Giant and its parent, the Dairy Farm Group, a top retailer in the region, giving SMEs a strong helping hand, the entry of Malaysian products into the Hong Kong market would most certainly be accelerated," Mohd Shafie said.

He also said that although Malaysian SMEs have made significant improvements, assistance from responsible corporate citizens such as Giant, was welcomed.

Such initiatives, he added, were in sync with the government's strategy of strengthening the marketing and promotion of SME products through the use of intermediaries to penetrate the export market.

Group chief executive of the Dairy Farm Group, Ron Floto, said Dairy Farm intended to continue supporting the development of Malaysian small and medium-sized enterprises in the retail sector.

"This is achieved by purchasing Malaysian products for sale in Malaysia and, in addition, by exporting Malaysian products to our network throughout Asia," Floto said.

We are fully committed to this pursuit because it is beneficial not only to Malaysian businesses but also a great value-add to our customers. It is a win-win situation: a way for us to add choice for our customers while supporting the SME businesses of Malaysia," he added.

On the "A Taste of Malaysia" campaign, Floto said it followed the successful "Exotic Malaysia's Best Fruits" joint promotion with the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (FAMA) in Hong Kong last year.

During the 10-day campaign, a total of 20 Wellcome Supermarkets will promote three types of food products from over 20 specially selected small and medium-sized producers from Malaysia, most of which are being introduced in Hong Kong for the first time.

Giant said in addition to the MOUs, it has also initiated several development and training programmes for its suppliers.

It added that in total, it has helped 140 suppliers to develop a total of 1,760 product lines, all of which are sold at its stores.

"With 90% of the goods currently sold at Giant stores sourced locally, Giant also contributes to Malaysia's economy by spurring domestic trade and generating employment opportunities both at the stores as well as through its supplier network," it said.