Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Prized spice has its fans, and imitators

Prized spice has its fans, and imitators

A farmer holds fresh pepper corns after they were harvested from a plantation in Ratanakkiri province.
A farmer holds fresh pepper corns after they were harvested from a plantation in Ratanakkiri province. Pha Lina

Prized spice has its fans, and imitators

Given the wild success of Kampot pepper, which can fetch up to three times the amount per kilo as Cambodian pepper produced without its prized label, it is hardly surprising that the product has its share of imitators.

In an effort to address the risk of knockoffs, which damage the reputation and marketing of the authentic product, the Ministry of Commerce and George Edgar, the European Union’s ambassador to Cambodia, held a joint seminar yesterday to explain to pepper producers the importance of respecting the Cambodian pepper’s Geographical Indicator (GI) status.

Kampot pepper was awarded GI status in 2010, and in February 2016 became the first Cambodian product recognised by the EU as carrying the designation. The GI label identifies and certifies the distinct geographical origin and associated qualities of a product, such as Champagne or Parmesan cheese.

Nguon Lay, president of the Kampot Pepper Promotion Association, said that despite its GI designation, Kampot pepper producers still struggle against a raft of inferior imitation products primarily geared toward the steady flow of passing tourists.

Pepper producers need to “raise public awareness of GI in order to strengthen the regulations and add value to the product”, he said. Lay added that it was up to individual producers to respect this privileged and protected status.

“We still find that around 25 percent of the market is using the Kampot pepper name without ensuring that it is actually a Kampot product or meets EU quality standards,” he said.

This was a substantial improvement, he admitted, from just last year, when a market survey carried out by the association found that 75 percent of pepper products were abusing its name.

“We are trying to get producers to understand the impact of imitation products,” he said, adding the Ministry of Commerce was ready to take action against producers caught selling imitation products.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture’s annual report, Cambodia produced 12,000 tonnes of pepper during last year’s harvest season, up from 9,800 tonnes the previous year.

Of this, only 70 tonnes was certified to carry the Kampot pepper label, about 10 tonnes more than last year. However, Lay said production was still short of demand. “Currently, we have a shortage when supplying to the international market,” he said.

“But we hope to be able to have enough hectares under cultivation by 2018.”

Kampot pepper falls into three categories with black peppercorn currently valued at $15 per kilo, red at $25, and white reaching $28 per kilo.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting

  • Cambodia gears up for muted New Year festival

    The recent curfew and restrictions imposed in the capital and other Covid-19 hotspots were intended to break the chain of transmission, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said as municipal and provincial authorities issued new directives banning certain activities during the upcoming Khmer New Year