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Le sucre cambodgien apprécié jusqu'à Paris

Cambodian sugar appreciated as far away as Paris

Although it is not yet certified, the Kampong Speu palm sugar produced by the Confirel company is not, strictly speaking, an unknown product abroad. In October 2005, Cambodian nectar won a trophy – a golden palm, in a way – in the “Eating well – organic products” category at the 18th edition of the NatExpo trade fair, which took place in Paris. At the time, the professionals at this show, which brought together ecological, dietetic, natural cosmetics and organic food products, praised the remarkable aromas of this natural sugar, stating that it was " a certified fair trade product and in the process of certification organic ”. Hay Ly Eang, the CEO of Confirel, proudly explains that " his " sugar has been exported to Europe, and in particular France, since the company was founded in February 2001. This is how we find this first "Khmer cultural product" on the shelves of major Parisian stores, such as Galeries Lafayette.
In addition to palm juice, Confirel manufactures several products: candied fruit, aperitif cocktails, palm wine and vinegar. But sugar wins the prize, alone representing 90% of Confirel's exports in its two annual containers. Partly thanks to the 2005 trophy, and also to the growing number of tourists visiting Siem Teap, this palm sugar is selling particularly well to foreigners visiting the kingdom. “ In Cambodia, we sell half of our products in Siem Reap, 40% in Phnom Penh and the rest in other cities like Sihanoukville and Battambang, details Hay Ly Eang. 60 to 70% of our sugar, 40% of our palm wine and 15% of our Mekong cocktail are sold locally thanks to foreign visitors. »

Reduce the price of products

From 2006 to 2008, the Confirel company invested no less than 200,000 dollars, and, for the years to come, seeks to develop less expensive products in order to meet the expectations of Cambodian consumers. Indeed, current products remain expensive compared to the average local standard of living. “We are currently studying the production of wine with a different origin because natural products based on palm sap remain expensive, continues the CEO of Confirel. We would like to be able to manufacture similar products using cheaper raw materials. For example, our palm wine produced from palm alcohol is difficult to access for Cambodian purses ($9 a bottle). But if we could make it from rice alcohol or “normal” alcohol, it would cost 50 to 60 times less” . A kind of “ Cambodia Dry ” which would have the taste and color of palm wine without actually being palm wine. Despite these projects, Confirel is focusing above all on sugar, its flagship product, because of its age and its popularity with foreign consumers. But this " golden palm sugar " could well be used to manufacture other by-products to complete the product range. According to Hay Ly Eang, thanks to Confirel's activities, 30% of the company's income goes directly to the farmers it employs, while 30% is used to pay its employees. The current situation is "much better than before" for the farmers associated with the company, according to the CEO, and which contributes to improving the health of the national economy.

Author: RD

Cambodia Soir Hebdo n9, November 29, 2007

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