A clam vendor shows off the day’s catch at Prolok Bek market in Phnom Penh.
CLAM wholesalers have appealed to fishermen and shellfish raisers to increase production to satisfy the increasing demands of local and international customers.
"Clams have been selling well since the increase in the price of beef, pork, chicken and fish," said Chhim Thunny, a clam wholesaler in Trolork Bek village, Boeng Kak commune, Russey Keo district, Phnom Penh.
Surging food prices have left many Cambodians unable to afford meat products, forcing them to turn to cheaper alternatives.
"There are days when I don't have enough clams to meet the demand of my customers because the clam collectors from the sea haven't caught enough," he said.
"I usually order four tonnes of clams per day from the catchers in Kampot, Koh Kong and Sihanoukville for distribution nationwide, but usually only receive three tonnes," he said, adding that he is confident that he will be able to distribute four tonnes of clams per day.
Chhim Thunny said that with the boom in the clam market he can earn an average of US$200 per day.
"I buy clams from Kampot province for 2,800 riels per kilogram and sell them to vendors for 3,200 riels per kilogram and clams from Koh Kong province I buy for 4,000 riels per kilogram and sell for 4,500 riels."
Long Simach, 45, a vendor at Kantout Market, Siem Reap district, Kandal province, said clams have been selling well for the last couple of years.
"I sell about 150 kilograms of clams on weekdays and 250 kilograms on the weekend," she said, adding that most people eat them as an accompaniment to beer and wine.
Veng Thai, director of Phnom Penh Municipal Heath Department, said while some people have linked eating clams to hypertension and skin disease, the ailments were not caused by clams.
"Eating clams can reduce fat and cholesterol," he said, adding that clams do not harm people with hypertension and skin allergies.
According to a report compiled by the Fisheries Administration, one Cambodian person consumes one kilogram of clams every three months, said Sam Nuov, deputy director of Fisheries Administration.
"The government is now trying to encourage shellfish raisers to increase shellfish breeding including lobsters," he said.