Go Back

Catch of the Day

In Focus
NAME:Stephen Ng
LOCATION:Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The most valuable currency in the booming aquaculture industry is integrity. MAG Holdings Chairman Stephen Ng says that’s his company’s mantra as it makes inroads in the lucrative Malaysian shrimp farming space.

The food industry depends upon integrity. As an increasingly aware public demands greater transparency around organic and sustainable sourcing, quality assurance is under more scrutiny than ever before.

A company that conducts itself with integrity can meet these expectations and even lift the industry as a whole. That’s why Stephen Ng, Chairman of Malaysian Aquaculture Group Holdings Berhad (MAG Holdings), believes integrity is the most important word in food.

“It’s very important,” Ng tells The CEO Magazine. “Integrity and quality assurance are things that as a food company we would never compromise.”

MAG Holdings is one of the leading shrimp aquaculture-based food producers in Malaysia, but that’s only a relatively new direction for the company.

Known as XingHe Holdings prior to 2019, it was primarily involved with edible vegetable oil. It was only after a number of acquisitions and pivots that MAG Holdings was formed in 2021, squarely in the aquaculture industry.

“Shrimp farming is actually a business that started in Malaysia over 40 years ago,” Ng says. “It’s very suitable for tropical weather like you’d find in Malaysia, but it’s typical to find foreign parties in the industry, particularly from Taiwan and Thailand.”

A Promising Outlook

When Ng and his partners were exploring new ventures in Malaysia in 2017, he realized that seafood was the most lucrative.

“Seafood has the highest transactional value among all categories of food,” he says. “Shrimp ranks number one, then tuna and salmon. Tuna is a deep sea fish; we’re not able to farm or breed it. Salmon isn’t suitable for Malaysia’s conditions, so that leaves shrimp.”

With its suitable climate and conditions, Malaysia was an ideal place for MAG Holdings to enter the shrimp farming business. MAG Holdings acquired Wakuba Farm in Sabah in 2019, and as the business expanded it acquired the larger North Cube Farm in 2021.

“We’re here to manage natural resources and make the community a better place.”

A third, 24-hectare farm soon followed, and a fourth joined the MAG Holdings portfolio at the end of 2023.

“Altogether we have about 410 ponds with a total capacity of up to 7,000 metric tons of shrimp,” Ng says. “That’s about 16 percent of Malaysia’s total farming capacity.”


The acquisitions have helped MAG Holdings evolve into one of the top two players in the Malaysian aquaculture industry. It’s a position Ng wants to use as a springboard for an aggressive push into the global market.

“Globally, two million tons of shrimp are farmed annually. In neighboring countries such as Thailand, they take anywhere between 150,000–200,000 metric tons. Vietnam takes about 400,000 tons. Malaysia only takes about 45,000 metric tons, but there’s huge potential for more.”

The Malaysian Advantage

Ng believes Malaysia also boasts a higher quality of shrimp than its neighbors.

“We export to countries that have quite high standards in terms of their requirements, particularly South Korea and Australia,” he says.

“These two countries have very strict quality assurance, and they can see we don’t use antibiotics in our farms.”

MAG Holdings’ ecologically sound ponds have seen yields jump from 2,000 to 7,000 metric tons in the last four years, and Ng says there’s more to come.

“We’re engaging in collaborations with state agencies, and we’re engaged in a high density smart farming program aimed at increasing the densities of our existing farms from 7,000 metric tons to 14,000 and eventually 28,000 metric tons.”

“Integrity and quality assurance are things we’d never compromise.”

Additionally, MAG Holdings is partnering with local aquaculture equipment experts such as QVC Bio System to enhance the conditions of its farms. By implementing innovative biosecurity measures to help detect potential diseases up to four weeks in advance, MAG is able to help safeguard the quality it has become renowned for.

“I talk a lot about the assurance of the quality of our products. Some of the players in our industry are adopting antibiotics and such for their farms, but it’s not good for consumers. We’re here to manage natural resources and make the community a better place.”

Back to top