Cambodia exported 19,916 tonnes of crude palm oil in the first five months of 2021, an increase of 5,246 tonnes or 35.76 per cent compared to the same period last year, according to data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
Industry insiders say favourable weather has led to an increase in domestic output of palm oil, while the world’s largest producers and exporters continue to report declines in production, citing weather-related issues and labour shortages.
Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon told The Post on May 26 that India and Malaysia were the largest consumers of crude Cambodian palm oil in January-May.
This is even though Malaysia ranks as the second largest producer and exporter of crude palm oil after Indonesia.
Sakhon said: “Some countries have seen reduced palm oil production due to rising labour costs, and they’re not making profits. Now they’re turning around and buying it from any country that can produce it.”
Mong Reththy, chairman of Mong Reththy Group Co Ltd, an agro-industrial conglomerate and by far the Kingdom’s largest exporter of crude palm oil, told The Post on May 26 that his company’s exports were about 20,000 tonnes in January-May, up from a mere 566 tonnes for full-year 2020.
“The increase in exports was due to favourable weather conditions, with heavy rains at the beginning of the rainy season, making palm oil more productive than in 2020. Prices are also better than in 2020, averaging $919 per tonne, up about 28 per cent from last year,” he said.
The oil palm, also known by its botanical name Elaeis guineensis, is a tropical plant cultivar which is said to have originated in the ancient rainforests of West Africa.
Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand are the main forerunners of the edible oil, which is widely consumed as food, animal feed, an energy source, as well as pharmaceutical and cosmetic products.
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.
As the largest oil palm grower in Cambodia and the fourth largest in Southeast Asia, the group now owns 20,000ha in plantation area in the Kingdom.
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.
It exports crude palm oil to countries in Southeast Asia and the EU.
The Kingdom exported 32,810 tonnes of crude palm oil in the first seven months of last year, to Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka, China, Switzerland and Pakistan, the ministry reported.