According to a fruits and vegetables market study of Cambodia (2016- 26), the fruits market in the Kingdom is expanding and consumption is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.1 percent over the next 5 years.
That China continues to be the major importer of Cambodian farm produce, including fruits, was evident from the fact that during January-July of 2022, the Kingdom shipped more than 250,000 tons of fresh bananas to international markets. Of this, around 220,000 tons of the fruit were exported to China and 24,000 tons to Vietnam, according to the ministry of agriculture data.
In the case of dried fruits and nuts, 98 percent of Cambodian produces are shipped to China and 90 percent of the tropical fruits are exported to Thailand and Vietnam, where they are processed for value addition and re-exported.
Meanwhile, Cambodian exports of fresh mangos at 117,951.55 metric tons in January-July of 2022 were down around 27 percent (161,228 metric tons) compared with the same period of the previous year. Shipment of bananas declined modestly during the period, according to a recent announcement by the agriculture ministry.
During the same January-July period, Cambodia exported 62,640 metric tons of fresh mangos to Vietnam (53 percent of the total), 27,681 metric tons to Thailand, 160 metric tons to South Korea, and 2 metric tons to Hong Kong.
Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon attributed the decline to rising costs, a lack of proper storage facilities, and strict anti-Covid measures in China, the biggest importer of fruits from Cambodia.
While Cambodian banana shipments dropped during the January-July period, it was less compared with mangos. The 250,000 metric tons of bananas exported during the seven months represented a fall of 7 percent year-on-year. Of this, 220,000 metric tons were exported to China and 24,000 metric tons to Vietnam.
The government has been striving to increase the production of agricultural produce across the country and look for newer export markets to help increase farmers’ income.
Promoting horticulture has been one of the focus areas of the government. Thanks to government efforts and policy interventions, the production of fruits in Cambodia increased from a meager 202,180 tons in 1971 to 372,535 tons in 2020, growing at an average annual rate of 1.43 percent.
According to the market trend, the demand for more expensive fresh fruits, like apples, berries, and kiwifruits, is rising at a fast pace because of the changing consumption patterns and their increasing availability across the country.
While bananas have been the most prominently grown fruit, mango cultivation has become more resilient in recent years, with farmers and traders turning to improved production and supply chain practices.
Some of the major vegetable-producing areas in Cambodia are Kandal, Kampong Cham, Siem Reap, and Kampot.
While fruits are grown in 61,226 hectares in Cambodia in 2020, according to conservative market estimates, among the Southeast Asian nations, Indonesia produced 22,743,965 tons, the Philippines 16,482,063 tons, Vietnam 10,616,559 tons, Thailand 10,098,175 tons, Myanmar 2,732,463 tons, Malaysia 1,113,002 tons, Timor-Leste 17,218 tons, Brunei Darussalam 8,133 tons, and Singapore 5 tons.
The development of the fruits and fruit products market has also made Cambodian an interesting attraction for investment by regional and international companies in the sector. According to market sources, economic growth, urbanization, and tourism are driving the processed vegetables and fruits market in the country. Given the ongoing industrial developments and government support, several companies are studying the prospect of setting up fruit processing units.
Despite efforts, agriculture support infrastructure is yet to be developed properly. There is a huge scope of investment in developing farm infrastructure like cold storage facilities, fruit processing industry, training farmers to become part of the value chain,
Cambodia has expanded its fruits and vegetable exports significantly in recent years, owing to the rise in demand for them in the international markets.
Interestingly, Cambodian fruits are also shipped outside South East Asia, but in a very negligible quantity. For example, Cambodia exported edible fruits, nuts, peels of citrus fruit, and melons worth $70.63 thousand in 2021 to France, according to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade.
It could be negligible in quantity but certainly allows a window for exploration of a large European Union market for Cambodian fruits.
This article was first published in Khmer Times. All contents and images are copyright to their respective owners and sources.