NOODLE makers in Kandal province’s Koh Thom district say they are facing stiff competition from Phnom Penh manufactures, who they claim make the food more appealing through use of illegal preservatives.
The district has long been a regional centre for production of the staple food by small and medium enterprises, but officials yesterday expressed concern that the local noodle makers are being out-competed by products made in Phnom Penh.
Taing Sitha, the owner of Tang Theng noodle manufacturers, said her firm had formerly sold 100 kilograms of noodle per day, but it had recently decreased to between 30 and 40 kilograms daily.
“I am worried that I cannot sell my noodles. I’m afraid that nothing can be done,” she said.
She says she sells her noodles for 2,800 riel per kilogram, while Phnom Penh-made noodles sell for over 4,000 riel for the same amount. However, she said consumers prefer noodles from Phnom Penh, as they often use preservatives, making the noodles tastier and allowing them to last longer.
Meng Saktheara, the director general of the Department of Industry at Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy, said the use of preservatives was common in manufacturing foodstuffs, adding some businesses use illegal preservatives such as borax to make their noodles tender and last longer.
He warned that noodles produced with use of borax will seriously affect the health of consumers – particularly with pregnant mothers – adding the ministry would take measures to prevent its use.
“The Ministry will close businesses that use borax and other chemicals harming consumers’ health,” he said, adding it would hold sessions on March 29 to teach healthier methods of manufacture to noodle producers.
Koh Thom district Industry Office Chief Bich Vuthy said local noodle producers still faced strong challenges from noodles made in Phnom Penh.
“People like noodles made in Phnom Penh, because it can be kept a long time, while noodles made here do not last,” he said.
Tang Chay, a handmade noodle maker in Koh Thom district, also said her sales are decreasing, with orders previously totalling 50 kilograms per day. They have now dropped to about 30 kilograms each day due to increased competition from the capital.
“I’ve run this business for many years, but if it continues to decline, I might go bankrupt,” she said.