Weak domestic production and rising demand led to a 28 per cent year-on-year increase in imported foods and beverages during the first six months of the year.
The Kingdom imported US$94.7 million in foods and beverages between January and June, according to data from the Ministry of Commerce.
The figure rose significantly, from $74 million a year earlier on what officials called a continued and widening shortfall in the Kingdom’s ability to meet domestic demand.
Some even called into question the safety of local products.
“It’s not good for our country when we see [this figure] increase. It proves that our domestic production has not response to the rise in demand,” Nguon Meng Tech, director general of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce, said yesterday. “I think our production and production quality is still poor so we need to import good quality products. Myself and others always think about our health before deciding to eat [local products].”
The gap in production capacity is well recognised in Cambodia, he added. Domestic producers must step up not only quantity, but quality in order to capture the market.
The shortfall did not necessarily reflect increased inadequacy in Cambodian production, Meng Saktheara, director general of industry and secretariat of the Small and Medium Sized Enterprise Sub-Committee.
Robust economic growth and booming retail sales accounted for the rise in imported goods.
“We also cannot say that the rise of imported products is our weakness or strength,” Meng Saktheara said yesterday. “Due to our good business atmosphere, retailer services are much better than they used to be. So we import more. Sometimes, we import some products which are not available here.”
Production was increasing, along with the recognition of local brands once completely overlooked by Cambodians, he added.
Lower prices abroad – an ease in inflation seen across the region – also led to more imports from neighbouring countries, Khin Song, deputy director general at the National Institute of Statistics, told the Post recently.
Cambodia has, however, seen some notable progress on product exports this year. Cambodia Beer, produced by Khmer Brewery, recently announced that it would export to Japan.
There has also been progress on product recognition on the global market, the Post reported earlier this year. Several Khmer products such as the traditional fermented fish sauce, or prohok, have been awarded geographical indicators that protect the goods’ identity.
To contact the reporter on this story: May Kunmakara at [email protected]