Cambodia is set to embark on a new drive to boost exports of fragrant and organic milled rice to the US, after the apex industry body gained new insights into the huge potential of the market, according to its chief.

Speaking to The Post during a business trip to the US and Europe, Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) president Song Saran said the US offers great opportunities for the Kingdom to ramp exports of these rice products beyond their historically low levels.

Saran said he explored some of these prospects at meetings with US-based businessmen, food suppliers and other distributors, as well as Cambodian consulates. He also met with big US rice companies to piece together a better understanding of the country’s regulations.

Armed with the new knowledge, he identified California as the ideal export destination in the country, reasoning that the state constitutes one of the biggest distribution networks to other US localities, and is home to the largest population of Asian- and Cambodian-Americans.

“I also visited large warehouses operated by suppliers and distributors, and transport companies are looking into the possibility of importing milled rice, seeing as we want to promote ‘Malys Angkor’, which has been honoured for four years as a luxurious rice – we could compete with others in that market,” he said.

Saran was referring to the World’s Best Rice Award, which “Malys Angkor” won four times at the TRT (The Rice Trader) World Rice Conference in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2018.

He also pointed out that, although outstripped by the European market, the US is a major organic rice consumer and the CRF wants to raise exports of these varieties.

“At the same time, we plan to organise a rice festival in California, which I’ll be discussing with members of the Cambodia Rice Federation, the government and other partners who lend a hand to the rice industry.

“We want to expand our market in the United States as much as we can. We’ve been working with all our partners and our local rice exporters because we have to rebrand our milled rice,” Saran said.

“Now we are making good progress.”

Signatures of Asia Co Ltd chairman and CEO Chan Sokheang told The Post on July 27 that his company had exported a few containers of milled rice to the US back in the day, but dropped out of the market due to fierce competition from established players, especially the dominant ones from Thailand.

Although noting that previous CRF missions to the US had yielded little market penetration into the North American country since “we are a new player”, Sokheang voiced enthusiasm and optimism for Saran’s proposed California rice festival, stating that “we’ve also got support from Cambodian community there”.

Meanwhile, milled rice exports reached 327,200 tonnes to the tune of $279.756 million in the first half of 2022, respectively up by 16.67 per cent and 17.77 per cent year-on-year, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries reported.

China was the biggest buyer of Cambodian milled rice over the January-June period, at 168,28a0 tonnes, representing a 17.44 per cent year-on-year increase, followed by 23 EU countries (98,624 tonnes; up 46.90 per cent) and four ASEAN countries (28,680 tonnes; up 5.69 per cent), while 23 other countries and territories imported 31,616 tonnes, down by 26.28 per cent.