Having good packaging is one of the main challenges facing small and medium-sized enterprises in the Kingdom as they attempt to compete in local and international markets.
Kunthea Natural Rice is an agriculture product based SME that faces the challenge of having good packaging to penetrate international markets.
Its CEO Hor Sokhunthea sat down with Post reporter Cheng Sokhorng to discuss the potential for Cambodian agro-products in international markets..
When did you start your business? And why did you choose agricultural products?
Before I started my own business, I was employed. I had a good position and job experience in an NGO and a private company.
In 2015, I started my own small business, distributing agricultural products. My first product was rice, which I bought from farmers in Battambang province. I repackaged it under my own brand.
Later, I started to distribute other products such as GI (geographical indication) pepper, GI palm sugar, cashew nuts and other organic products that met quality and food safety standards in Cambodia and international markets.
What challenges did you face as a businesswoman?
It is not easy for a businesswoman. I had to be strong and oppose my family because I had a good salary as an employee. My family did not support my decision to go into business. But because I love doing business, I have kept at it until today.
Another challenge is that I had to learn on the job, look for a way to package my products and build my business network. Meanwhile, I had to compete with big businessmen who invested much more money than I did.
Because I focused on premium products and on high quality, my customers continue to support me.
How do you package your products?
Good quality packaging is lacking in Cambodia and a major obstacle. We do not have factories that can produce good packaging material, so we have to import them from Thailand, Vietnam and China. This adds to the cost of our product packaging.
This makes our prodcuts more expensive and also more difficult to market if we compare with neighbouring countries. We do not have standard packaging and that is an obstacle for us to meet international requirements and criteria.
Good packaging is vital to meet the requirements of our buyers as they view it as crucial to enter the international market.
Our Agricultural sector really needs a packaging factory in order to lower production costs, and this would be a chance to put our agro-products to be marketed internationally.
We really need investors to achieve this. If we have a healthy packaging industry, our agricultural products sector will be more successful.
What should we do in order to promote our products?
We have a lot of potential agricultural products. Our GI products such as pepper and palm sugar can do better. We should join our strengths together to promote our products and support our farmers who work hard to produce quality food for us.
If we do our best to package our products to high standards, then it will grow our market and add value to our farmers’ products. A lot of our agro-products have the potential to become famous in international markets.
So I am always looking for a package distributor with high-tech standards to pack our agro products and meet the requirements. This is what we need to better promote our agriculture products sector.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.