The Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation on Tuesday called on all supermarket owners in Cambodia to stock local products that meet adequate hygiene standards.
The plea was made during a consultation between the ministry and supermarket representatives under the theme Promoting Khmer Products held at the ministry.
Ministry secretary of state Kim Touch said talks centred on reinforcing hygiene standards and addressing the challenges faced by the Kingdom’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
All parties will work to pave the way for more SME products to make their debut at supermarkets across the Kingdom.
“The discussions are very important in fashioning solutions and making it easier to provide opportunities to back local products in the food and non-food sectors,” Touch said.
He noted that the volume of local products on the shelves in the capital’s supermarkets remains limited and that all stakeholders must work together to support moving more local products into mainstream markets and further stimulate growth.
“As the guardian of SMEs, the ministry is committed to continuing to work with supermarket owners to ease any appropriate standard requirements that would allow small and medium enterprises to be able to bring its products into supermarkets in Cambodia,” Touch said.
According to Thel Veasna, a food order manager at shopping mall developer and operator Aeon (Cambodia) Co Ltd, Aeon Malls have always been staunch supporters of local products, with more than 2,000 items currently stocking the shelves of its two Phnom Penh locations.
Injecting an air of realism, he called on supermarket owners to tighten their hygiene controls in their evaluation of potential new products.
A Makro (Cambodia) Co Ltd representative, who goes by the name Odom, said Makro is doing its part in promoting domestic products.
He noted that it signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in September with the Ministry of Commerce on the development of value chains to supply the retailer with agro-commercial products.
The deal, he said, was part of the commerce ministry’s Accelerating Inclusive Markets for Smallholders (Aims) project.
“We support local products. We currently have many local products on sale at Makro warehouse stores, and many of them are very popular,” Odom said.
Speaking at the event, Hort Pheng, the director-general of the industry ministry’s General Department of SMEs and Handicrafts, said there were 52,154 formally registered SMEs as of December 31.
But Covid-19 shuttered 13,690 of them, mostly in the cigarette, food or beverage business, he said.
The total economic output of the Kingdom’s SMEs was to the tune of $2.6 billion last year, he added.
“We need to strengthen hygiene standards to be competitive in terms of production capacity, quality, packaging and capture international market opportunities,” Pheng said.