I wrote earlier about the Malay origins of the word agar-agar and how this clearly shows the important historical role of Malaya in the transmission of this food outside of Asia.
On my last visit to the supermarket, I had a closer look at the two most popular brands of agar-agar: Rose brand and Swallow Globe brand.
Although Rose is a Singapore brand, and Swallow Globe is Indonesian, the actual agar doesn’t come from Malaysia or Indonesia at all. Rose brand packets state, ‘Product of Japan’ (agar is known as kanten in Japanese) and Swallow Globe agar comes from Chile! This list of industrial agar and carrageenan suppliers includes a large proportion of companies in South America. I wonder what happened to Malaysian production of agar-agar?