Cambodia exported 20,492 tonnes of crude palm oil (CPO) in the first five months of 2022, registering a decrease of 6.07 per cent year-on-year, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
India was the top buyer of Cambodian CPO during the period, at 17,100 tonnes or more than 83 per cent, followed by Malaysia (3,200 tonnes) and Thailand (192 tonnes).
Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon noted that the Kingdom is not a significant palm oil producer, and that output comes exclusively from plantations owned by tycoon Mong Reththy, trees of which he said were aging and hence yielding less.
Reththy confirmed this in April, noting that some of the oil palms were now 25 years old, which he said was an age where yields show a marked decline.
Sakhon also credited the drop in palm oil exports to global production chain issues related to transportation and dwindling market demand.
He told The Post that rising fuel prices had driven up transport costs, prompting traders of CPO and other agricultural commodities to process their goods for domestic use rather than for export.
Reththy, owner of the namesake Mong Reththy Group, affirmed that palm oil exports had indeed decreased, but that production had not. He told The Post that some of the excess palm fruit is used as raw material for animal feed, or processed into other products domestically.
He said that a rise in feed mills and Cambodians’ increasing aversion to high-calorie oils have contributed to an uptick in domestic demand for palm oil, a trend he indicated was especially evident this year.
Reththy said his company is still looking to expand its cultivation of oil palms to 30,000ha, from its current 20,000ha, in order for CPO production to justify an approximately $25 million investment in a refinery to create value-added products.
The firm expects to export at least 50,000 tonnes of CPO this year.
Mong Reththy Group was established on January 1, 1989 and its subsidiary Mong Reththy Investment Cambodia Oil Palm Co Ltd was granted a land concession for an oil palm plantation on January 9, 1996.
In 2000, the company invested in its first oil palm mill with the capacity of producing 30 tonnes palm oil per hour, and in 2015 built a second mill with a 45 tonne-per-hour processing capacity.