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Export plans on hold

noodles men sarun mee yeung
Instant noodles are manufactured at the Men Sarun Powder Factory in 2011. The company decided against exporting to the US. Photograph: Vireak Mai/Phnom Penh Post

Local instant noodle company Men Sarun failed in its plan to export canned noodles to US markets this year, and an official confirmed that failures stemmed from both the unstable market price and increasing costs of transportation.

Choun Kol, deputy general director of Men Sarun Investment, told the Post that the export plans were temporarily suspended, though producing machines have already been imported but not yet been installed.

According to information he received from his business partners in the US, the cost of transportation has increased to around $6,000 per container in recent months, from about $4,000 earlier in the year. The move stemmed from increasing gas prices.

“We don’t yet produce because of unstable market prices, while the local market is still small for canned noodles,” Kol said. “We will wait to see the situation of the markets.”

Even though the company failed to fulfil its plans to export to the US market, Kol said the company exported more than 2,000 cases of packed noodles to Hong Kong about two months ago in order to test the market, although the results have not yet come back.

“Our market is still small for canned noodles, and we are waiting to see [in the] coming time, when the ASEAN Economic Community [is] nearly reached to see what will happen,” Kol said.

In mid-July last year, he said, the company planned to invest about $1 million by early this year in new factory machinery targeting US consumption. The new machinery is expected to produce 6,000 cases, or 300,000 cans, of packed noodles in 10 hours.

Meng Saktheara, director-general of the General Department of Industry at the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy, could not say which factors have stopped the firm from exporting.

However, he said local market demand is still high for processed food products and Cambodian products are more competitive in quality than their equivalents in neighbouring countries.

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