Cambodia exported more than 22,580.68 tonnes of peppercorn – both geographical indication- (GI) branded Kampot pepper and non-GI cultivars – in the first seven months of 2021, up 558.19 per cent year-on-year, with Vietnam as the top buyer, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

The outbound shipments went to 19 countries, with Vietnam buying up the most (22,217 tonnes), followed by Germany (244.57 tonnes), France (20.14 tonnes) and Belgium (15.98 tonnes).

Cambodian Pepper and Spices Federation (CPSF) president Mak Ny said the Kingdom’s non-GI pepper exports have relied almost entirely on the Vietnamese market.

“We know that every day our market depends on Vietnam – between 70-90 per cent – and that’s because our local companies cannot find buyers, so we rely on large companies based in Vietnam, which buy from us to process there,” he said.

As an industrial body, the CPSF “wants to have direct exports from Cambodia, but as domestic shipping costs are higher than in Vietnam, some companies do not want to do business in our country”, he lamented.

“Most GI-branded Kampot pepper is exported to the European market, while the regular pepper market – aside from Vietnam – is shipped in part to the Middle East,” Ny said, stressing that: “We hope to gain access to the Chinese market for non-GI pepper, but China has not yet given the green light.”

Kampot Pepper Promotion Association (KPPA) president Nguon Lay said the GI-brand pepper market now seems to be booming remarkably, exporting about 60 tonnes in the first seven months of this year.

“Consumer orders from exporters are also on the rise,” he said.

The price of GI-branded Kampot pepper has not changed in years – $15 per kg of black pepper, $25 for red and $28 for white. Last year, exporters bought 70 tonnes of the commodity, which today is exported to more than 50 countries, mostly in Europe, according to Lay.

Cambodia exported 5,032,968.60 tonnes of agricultural products to 64 countries in the first seven months of 2021, up 2,342,981.39 tonnes or 87.10 per cent year-on-year, according to the General Directorate of Agriculture’s National Phytosanitary Database.

The Kingdom’s main agricultural exports are milled and paddy rice, fresh bananas, peppercorn, cassava, cashew nuts, corn kernels, soybeans, mung beans, coconut oil, tobacco, chillies, and assorted vegetables.