Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Expo: A match made in food




Expo: A match made in food

Attendees of the CamFood and CamHotel expo peruse exhibits from international suppliers at Diamond Island convention centre
Attendees of the CamFood and CamHotel expo peruse exhibits from international suppliers at Diamond Island convention centre yesterday. Pha Lina

Expo: A match made in food

Foreign food and beverage suppliers converged on Phnom Penh yesterday in search of a local distributor to help expand their brands into the Kingdom’s hospitality industry.

The first day of the CamFood and CamHotel expo kicked off yesterday at Diamond Island Convention Centre. More than 300 companies, including meat suppliers, coffee roasters, wine makers and oven manufactures registered for the expo’s third installment since 2010.

“This is a professional-to-professional event, not so much about the public,” Luu Meng, head of the newly established Cambodia Tourism Federation, said yesterday while judging the Cambodian National Culinary Competition.

“Today is about bringing to Cambodia quality first. Quality first means everything and everyone moving towards the one goal of improving standards across Cambodia’s hospitality and food and beverage industry together.”

But while Meng was focused on grading the student Cambodian chefs cooking in the national competition, the expo floor was a frenzied maze of handshakes, business cards and sales pitches.

Jim Cromzigt, CEO of the Thailand-based Coffee Group Asia was just one of the firms vying for a chance to expand into the local marketplace.

“In Asia, there has become this sort of desire to consume European. So I’m really just here trying to find a distributor,” Cromzigt said.

“I hope to find one potential distributor at the least. Then start a partnership, and maybe consider expanding our business to Cambodia. If this expo brings me one potential lead, I will be satisfied.”

At the end of day-one of his first CamFood and CamHotel expo, Cromzigt said that he had yet to find a distributor for his Catunambu branded coffee beans.

Francesco Paganelli, export manager of Romagna Coop Food, a cooperative of small-scale food producers from Italy, was in a very similar position as the stalls wound up yesterday afternoon.

“There has been growth in the number of Italian restaurants opening up here. So naturally, we want to expand our business to Cambodia as we have already expanded to Vietnam and Thailand,” he said, adding that he was yet to make any partnership prospects.

While some of the foreign businesses came to the expo with high hopes and little knowledge of Cambodia’s business environment, others were well aware of the potential barriers to trade.

“It’s a great expo and it does give us a real chance at finding a local to help us enter the market and learn more about how business is done here,” Fahmy Ahmad, CEO of Malaysian health food maker Wangsa Interaktif, said.

“That said, we understood very quickly, before even arriving, that customs procedures in Cambodia would be an issue for our naturally-made products, and then transport and in-country logistics also looks to be a challenge.”

The CamFood and CamHotel exhibition started in 2010 with some 60 stall holders, according Andrew Siow, director of the Singaporean-based event organiser, AMB Events Group.

That number increased to more than 90 in 2012 and to 170 stalls this year.

During the 2012 expo, Siow estimated that exhibiting companies achieved more than $670,000 worth of sales and later went on to strike $2 million worth of post-event deals and partnerships.

“The hotel and restaurant scene was very new back in 2010 and we were the only business-to-business trade show operator looking at the country,” Siow said.

“But now, we are confidently seeing growth in exhibitors and attendees. Cambodia’s purchasing power is increasing, slowly, which is driving some growth in the franchise industry and encouraging more exhibitors to come to the expos.”

MOST VIEWED

  • CDRI poll: Most happy but disappointments still exist

    A survey has found that over 70 per cent of Cambodian youths and adults approve of the direction the country is headed in, with the majority of respondents saying they had been doing better financially over the past five years. However, more than half said they

  • Drugs raid on Miami Night Club, 50 held

    Anti-drugs police raided a club in Chamkarmon district’s Boeung Keng Kang I commune in Phnom Penh early on Thursday, arresting some 50 people and confiscating drug-producing equipment and suspected illegal substances. Deputy National Police chief Mok Chito said on Thursday that police conducted the raid

  • Phnom Penh: The street food you adore, but given a refined twist

    There is no shortage of street food vendors scattered across Phnom Penh, but what is far rarer is finding a place that also has comfortable seating, good hygiene and parking. This is where Jing Ling and her five friends step in. With the concept of

  • Battambang court releases minor who shot boy

    The Battambang provincial court on Thursday released a 14-year-old boy who had been detained for accidentally firing a home-made gun and killing a nine-year-old boy in Samlot district on Tuesday, provincial court spokesman Tieng Sambor said. Sambor told The Post on Thursday that following the