Sela Pepper Eyes New Markets In Asia And Europe

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With Cambodian pepper gaining popularity across the globe, Sela Pepper, the largest local exporter, is planning a considerable increase in international shipments in the near future.

A farmer collects pepper in a local farm. KT/Mai Vireak

The company says it will begin shipping its products to Japan soon.

Speaking during a press conference Friday, Soeng Sopha, Sela Pepper general manager, said last year the company shipped more than 100 tonnes of pepper to countries in Southeast Asia and Europe.

“In the last five years, demand for our product has risen despite our pepper being a bit more expensive than the competition,” she said.

Sela Pepper established a pepper processing factory in Tboung Khmum’s Memot district in 2015. Since then, the company has been working with 600 farmers, who supply the raw material.

The factory can now process 1.5 tonnes of pepper per hour, Ms Sopha said. To be able to export its products, the company has applied for and obtained the most important international quality certifications, including HACCP and ISO 22000:2005.

“Many big markets in Europe are now interested in our pepper because they trust our quality despite our prices being a little higher than the rest.

“This year, we plan to penetrate Japan and new countries in Europe as well as expand exports in the United States,” said Ms Sopha, who explained that the company already exports to Taiwan, South Korea, and New Zealand.

The government is now working on a national strategy for the pepper sector that will seek to boost the price of the commodity and diversify the export market.

The policy will be drafted by the ministries of Commerce and Agriculture with the help of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Cambodian Pepper and Spices Federation.

A recent report from the Ministry of Agriculture shed light on the country’s dependency on neighbouring Vietnam for pepper exports. Last year, national production was 21,000 tonnes. Of that, Vietnam absorbed about 16,000 tonnes, according to the report.

About 2,000 tonnes were consumed internally, while only 2,700 tonnes were sent to countries other than Vietnam.

This article was originally published in the Khmer Times.