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Consumers show strong interest in Myanmar products as import prices rise


Local producers at the Made in Myanmar trade fair. Nyan Zay Htet/The Myanmar Times

Local producers were given an opportunity to display their ware at the Made in Myanmar trade fair held over the weekend in Kandawgyi Lake, Yangon.

The event was held on January 4-6 with the aim of drawing more attention to local products and for entrepreneurs to gain experience and new ideas.

“There are many local producers with export-quality goods. The event is held for them to gain exposure, develop new ideas and keep up with what others are doing,” said Ma Su Yi May, an organiser for the event.

There were a total of 136 stalls displaying local produce including food, clothes, cosmetics, traditional medicines as well as services such as catering, tourism and even ride-hailing. Panel discussions for local businesses to exchange ideas on customer service, operations and marketing were also held.

Among the issues local entrepreneurs face is generating awareness for their products. “There are many locally produced goods such as cosmetics that are authentic and natural which can replace imports,” said Ma Su Yi May. However, local consumers usually buy foreign brands even though quality is just as good as they are not aware import substitutes exist.

Another challenge for domestic producers is the inability to scale their business. “Consumers always ask why local brands are expensive relative to imported brands. The cost of production can be lowered if local businesses are able to mass produce. So, local producers need more demand for their products. They need people to buy local goods,” she said.

The response has been promising so far. According to data provided by the organisers, the Made in Myanmar event saw an average of of 2500 visitors per day, exceeding estimates of 1500 per day. “Shop owners also experienced supply shortages from the second day onwards. Local products appear to be very popular,” Ma Su Yi May said.

The higher interest in locally made goods also comes at a time when imports have become dearer for the locals due to the volatile dollar-to-kyat exchange rate. “As the exchange rate has been rising, prices of imported goods have also become more expensive. So, there is more interest in locally produced import substitutes,’ she said.

“We produce powdered jaggery and have experimented on it for about three years before perfecting the product. Now, everyone is showing interest in our jaggery products as a replacement for sugar and artificial seasoning agents. It is very popular in this expo as well,” said Nan Khin Ohn, managing director of Na Rain Dara Co Ltd. Currently, its products are exported to Japan and samples have also been sent to other countries as well.

“The Made in Myanmar trade fair highlights local products and encourages people to purchase them,” said Kyaw Zeyar Linn, owner of Myanhouse, a local wholesaler of clothing, sculptures, tea and coffee.

From: THE MYANMAR TIMES (Myanmar) Tues January 8, 2019


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