Exports of Kampot-Kep salt, recently identified as a “geographical indication” (GI) product, are slated to begin by the end of 2023, said Bun Narin, president of the Association of GI Kampot-Kep Salt Producers.

Currently, the association is in the process of printing salt packs and disseminating information to farmers and relevant stakeholders on compliance procedures in the production stage and how to pack them.

Salt from Kampot and Kep was officially identified as a GI product by the Ministry of Commerce on April 26, 2023.

Speaking to The Post on August 14, Bun Narin said that following the registration of the product, his association has done a lot of work relating to the environmental condition of salt fields, salt quality and packaging to help speed up the export of salt to international markets.

“I hope the export of GI salt will start at the end of 2023 because when the printing of packaging begins, team members would need to inspect the salt produced by the families who are members of the association.

“We need to see if their salt fields meet GI standards before we open for orders,” he said, noting that GI products not only ensure quality compliance required by the law, but also are more expensive than regular products.

The cost of GI salt products is expected to be 30 to 50 per cent more than regular salt products. At present, good quality salt costs 25,000 riel ($6) per 50kg bag and low quality salt costs between 17,000 to 18,000 riel.

Previously, Kampot-Kep salt products were exported to Japan, Czechia, Switzerland and the UK, along with Kampot GI pepper products.

As of now, Narin’s association has received applications for processing and packaging of GI salt from an enterprise with a processing capacity of more than 5,000 tonnes per year. The number of applications is expected to rise two to three times in the future.

Sok Kimchoeun, director of the Kampot provincial Department of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation, said in mid-June that hot weather and reduced rainfalls helped to double the salt harvest in Kampot in 2023 compared to 2022.

The harvest has reached more than 75,000 tonnes year to date, Narin said, adding that yields would increase if there is no heavy rain for two to three weeks straight.

“For now, salt harvests are being released to the market in large quantities,”he said.

According to the industry ministry, Cambodia needs between 700,000 and 100,000 tonnes of salt per year to meet domestic demand.

Kampot and Kep are salt production sites in the Kingdom. In 2023, the total salt farming area in both coastal provinces was 4,748ha, which is similar in size as in 2022.

For Kampot, the salt harvest for 2023 up to now is almost 80,000 tonnes while Kep produced about 3,000 tonnes.

Last year, Cambodia imported nearly 20,000 tonnes of natural salt from India to meet domestic demand as the local weather impacted production, causing harvest to drop to around 40,000 tonnes.

Back in 2014, 2015 and 2016, the Kingdom harvested more than 100,000 tonnes of salt per year, but the yield has seen a steady decline since 2017, resulting in necessary imports to plug local demand.

A ministry report showed that in 2019, Cambodia imported about 10,000 tonnes of salt.