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Interest sprouting in fruit, vegetable market

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Longmate Agriculture Co Ltd has invested $32 million in a yellow banana plantation on more than 1,000ha in Kampot province’s Chhouk district. Heng Chivoan

Interest sprouting in fruit, vegetable market

Cambodia's fruit and vegetable market is trending up, providing an unparalleled opportunity for the Kingdom’s growers, who often lack buyers for their produce, said a study by French-based industry report search engine ReportLinker.

In its study Cambodia Fruits and Vegetables Market – Growth, Trends, and Forecast (2020 - 2025) released last week, ReportLinker said the Kingdom’s food and beverage market has grown significantly in recent years.

Urbanisation, tourism and economic growth in the Kingdom pre-Covid-19 had fuelled growth in the fruit and vegetable market, drawing the attention of regional and international brands.

The key processed food and beverage products made and consumed in the Kingdom include fresh cut vegetables, dried vegetables, pickles, sauces, fruit juices and wine, said the study.

“Owing to the ongoing industrial developments and government support, foreign players are looking forward to establishing fruit processing companies in the country.

“For example, Coconut Palm Group Co Ltd, a leading tropical fruit juice manufacturer, plans to invest in coconut plantations and setup a factory in Cambodia to produce fruit juice in 2020.

“Thus, the growing food processing industries, government support for the food processing industries, and export demand for fruit juices may stimulate the growth of the market studied.

“Bananas were the most prominently cultivated fruit in Cambodia. Additionally, the mango industry in the country became more resilient in recent years, with a rising adoption of improved production and supply chain practices.

“Fruit-bearing vegetables, such as tomatoes, were the most widely cultivated vegetables in the country. On the other hand, beans held one of the most prominent shares in vegetable imports in 2019. Some of the major vegetable producing areas in Cambodia include Kandal, Kampong Cham, Siem Reap, and Kampot,” it said.

Mao Sothea, a sales manager at Kirirom Food Product Co Ltd, a mango processing factory, told The Post that Cambodia’s fruit exports have grown substantially in recent years.

“Nowadays, my factory is doubling its production level during the pandemic. We have also increased mango purchases from farmers to up to 100 tonnes per day.

“Before the coronavirus spread, we’d buy just 60 tonnes of mangoes per day for processing,” said Sothea.

To meet the rising food demand in the international market, Kirirom Food Product expanded its operations and built an additional processing plant on its premises, she said.

“My company has expanded to about 3,000sqm, with 9,000sqm allotted to growing [mango], and we have two factories in the same area.”

Cambodia began exporting yellow bananas directly to the Chinese market in mid-2019, and fresh mango to South Korea early this year.

Hun Lak, director of Longmate Agriculture Co Ltd, a yellow banana grower and exporter, told The Post on Sunday that the agro-processing industry, food processing and fruit crops are taking huge advantage during the global break out of Covid-19 disease.

Now, he said, the private sector – including his company – is turning to the agro-processing sector, which they believe has significant untapped investment potential.

“My company’s yellow banana exports are smooth as normal – producers are working hard right now to encourage investment in the sector.

“And the relevant ministries’ promotion activities have boosted the agricultural sector and is diversifying investment into new areas,” he said.

Longmate Agriculture Co Ltd has invested $32 million in a yellow banana plantation on more than 1,000ha in Kampot province’s Chhouk district.

The company is currently investing in the first phase by planting bananas on over 400ha. It exports between one and two containers of bananas to China through Vietnam per day.

Vietnam, China, Thailand and Japan are the main importers of fresh produce from the Kingdom, said ReportLinker.

Cambodia exported 72,182 tonnes of fresh yellow bananas to international markets during the first three month of this year, data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries report shows.

During the period, the Kingdom exported 25,806 tonnes of fresh mango to six markets – Vietnam, Thailand, South Korea, France, Russia and Hong Kong.

The export of yellow bananas to international markets last year reached 157,812 tonnes, most of which were exported to China and the rest to Vietnam and Japan

Last year, the Kingdom exported 58,162 tonnes of fresh mango to six markets – Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, France, Russia and Hong Kong.

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