Cambodia is gearing up to bolster its fragrant rice exports to Middle Eastern countries in response to rising demand within the region, according to the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF), the Kingdom’s apex rice industry body .

CRF president Chan Sokheang met with Amin Mirabdolbaghi, chairman and CEO of Muller Commodities General Trading Ltd, on October 17 to discuss the prospects for the Kingdom’s rice industry and export potential to Middle Eastern markets.

“I met with the company interested in importing fragrant rice from us to supply Arab countries, as they already import approximately 500,000 to 600,000 tonnes of fragrant rice annually,” he told The Post.

While no formal agreements have been reached, both parties are actively exploring logistics and export procedures.

“We are currently assessing the export process at the port and other export procedures. Although we didn’t finalise any agreements during the meeting, we did agree on containerised exports,” he said.

“We anticipate launching our exports to Middle Eastern countries in December or January, and we also discussed infrastructure, transportation means, ports, and the types of milled rice,” he added.

Sokheang emphasised Cambodia’s capability to supply high-quality fragrant milled rice to meet the Middle East’s preferences. Cambodia has already been exporting milled rice to Arab countries like Saudi Arabia and nearby regions.

In addition to its Middle East expansion, Cambodia is actively planning to export fragrant and organic rice to the EU and US as well.

Amru Rice CEO Song Saran told The Post on October 16 that they are collaborating with the Cambodian Consulate General in Long Beach, in the US state of California, to increase the availability of fragrant milled rice in urban centres with substantial Asian populations.

The company, which previously primarily exported organic milled rice to its US-based counterparts, is now introducing its Phka Rumduol luxury milled rice to the Long Beach market.

“We are not entering a new market in the US; we are introducing new products tailored for Cambodian and Asian consumers residing in the US,” he stated.

“Our company currently exports approximately 2,000 tonnes of organic milled rice to the US annually, primarily targeting American distributors. The Phka Rumduol milled rice serves as our luxury offering, catering especially to Asians,” he added.

According to CRF’s report, Cambodia exported a total of 456,581 tonnes of milled rice in the first nine months of 2023, generating $327.45 million in revenue.

The breakdown of exports includes 155,366 tonnes to mainland China and Hong Kong valued at $99.65 million, 190,788 tonnes to 26 EU countries totalling $138.98 million, 45,306 tonnes to five ASEAN member countries worth $31.32 million, and 66,331 tonnes to 24 Middle Eastern countries, netting $57.49 million.

In terms of milled rice varieties, fragrant rice dominated with an 82.43% share, followed by white at 12.26%, parboiled at 3.33%, organic at 1.77% and short-grain white rice at 0.02%.

In the first nine months of the year, Cambodia exported 3,077,415 tonnes of paddy unmilled rice, generating approximately $862.39 million in revenue, with over 59% of these exports officially processed and documented by the competent authorities.