Cambodian-based specialty food producer Confirel won first prize for its Thnot Organic Sugar at the 15th Asean Food Conference in Ho Chi Minh City yesterday.
Thnot sugar had won first prize once before, in a 2005 European competition, but this marks the first time it has won in Asean and for its nutritional qualities, according to Hay Ly Eang, CEO of Confirel.
Confirel works with the Kampong Speu Palm Sugar Promotion Association (KSPSPA) and its member families to process palm-based goods including sugar, wine, vinegar and juice. Annually, Confirel receives approximately 150 tonnes of organic palm sugar from this partnership.
According to Eang, the first place prize has revived the positive reputation of Cambodian palm sugar and could result in a strengthening of the entire market.
“This award will strengthen our reputation in the international market,” he said. “Local farmers should be proud.”
KSPSPA President Sam Saroeun said that since Kampong Speu palm sugar obtained geographical indicator status in 2010, becoming internationally recognised as a quality product, its recognition has spread and improved the incomes of farmers. This award, he said, would also have a positive impact.
The association’s capacity of production this year was approximately 250 to 270 tonnes, and farmers earn about 5,000 riel per kilogram sold. Plans for expansion of production and cultivation are in place, said Saroeun.
However, he remains afraid of counterfeit palm sugar products flooding the market. “We are always concerned about protecting palm sugar’s reputation in the market,” he said. “I hope the government will take action to help us.”