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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Palm wine producer sees revenue double on high foreign demand

Palm wine producer sees revenue double on high foreign demand

CAMBODIA'S largest palm wine producer, Confirel, expects to earn US$500,000 this year, up from $250,000 in 2007, said M. Hay Ly Eang, general manager of Confirel Co Ltd.

The company exported between 4,000 and 5,000 bottles of wine to the European Union in 2007.

"We are able to produce 20,000 litres of palm wine a year from palm juice," said Ol Tola, vice president of operations.

The locally-made alcoholic drink is increasingly popular abroad, but suppliers say stiff taxes are limiting the company's growth prospects outside of Cambodia.

"We don't expect to export more to the EU because they have introduced new taxes on alcohol products, so it is hard for us.  We are now selling our products to the local market, especially tourists," M. Hay Ly Eang said.

The company urged the government to support the industry's efforts to export.

"If the government does not help us, how can local and international markets know our products and our identity? We need a lot of money to advertise," M. Hay Ly Eang said.

"We are trying expand abroad, but we are not getting any help from the government and the Cambodian embassies. But if the government helps us, we can [expand] very fast," M. Hay Ly Eang said.

Sweet palm juice is supplied by 300 families in five communities in Kampong Speu and Kandal provinces, said Ol Tola.

But the Ministry of Commerce said palm wine is not a priority for the Cambodian government. "Palm wine is not a product we are encouraging for export because it is a small industry.... We are helping to upgrade the quality of palm sugar," said Mao Thora, undersecretary of state at the Commerce Ministry.

Confirel said it exported over 20 tonnes of sugar in 2007, and hopes to export 30 tonnes in 2008, M.Hay Ly Eang said.

But a local restaurant said that  palm wine cannot compete with higher quality foreign beverages.

"I used to sell palm wine, but I stopped selling it about two years ago because customers don't like drinking palm wine," an employee at K-West restaurant told the Post.

There roughly three million palm trees in Cambodia supporting the palm sugar industry.

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