Cambodia: Imports of US agricultural products could soar in Kingdom: USDA

Cambodia represents an attractive opportunity for agricultural producers based in the United States, according to a report issued by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The recently published “Cambodia Exporter Guide” said “Cambodia remains a potential market for US agricultural products thanks to its young population, a growing middle-income class and rising demand for high-quality imported products.”

According to the report, exports of consumer-oriented products to Cambodia rose 21 percent from 2018 to 2019, growing from $1.1 billion to $1.4 billion.

From 2009 to 2019, US exports of consumer-oriented products to Cambodia increased from $4.3 million to $29 million, a 578 percent jump.

Positive indicators listed in the report for increased US agricultural exports to the Kingdom were the predominant perception that US products are hygienic and of high quality and that there is growing market demand for this type of product.

The report also noted Cambodia’s long-term upward GDP trend and the population’s familiarity with US products as well as a growing demand for supermarkets with healthier food products.

Potential downsides include the fact that US products are typically more expensive than competitors’ prices and that free trade agreements inked between Cambodia and other countries create a competitive advantage not yet possible for US-Cambodia trade.

It also mentioned that most local consumers will likely continue to prefer shopping at traditional wet markets and that poor cold chain infrastructure prevents the import of certain perishable products.

“Cambodia’s energetic tourism industry and the growing foodservice, retail and e-commerce sectors offer the best opportunities for US exporters of high-value foods and beverages. Consumers of US products are likely to be young and higher-income Cambodians, expatriates working for non-profit organisations and tourists,” the report said.

For US agricultural exporters hoping to break into the Cambodian market, the USDA recommended working with partners already in Cambodia or importing through a third-party such as Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam or Singapore.

“By importing from these nearby markets, supermarkets and importers can bring in a wider range of products via smaller quantities than container loads and benefit from lower transportation costs and import duties,” the USDA said.

Dairy was one segment mentioned as poised for massive growth with demand for fresh milk, condensed milk, yogurt and premium dairy products continuing to grow.

Change in tastes, including increased meat consumption and a trend towards healthy and safe foods can be attributed to rising incomes, increased awareness, the popularity of western culture and advertising, the USDA said.

“Driven by demand for frozen red meat and poultry, imports of meat and meat products increased from $29 million in 2015 to $123 million in 2019,” the report said.

The report continued: “Based on trends in export trade data from 2015 to 2019, the best prospects for U.S. products include nonalcoholic beverages (367 percent increase from 2015), dairy products (266 percent increase from 2015), beef and beef products (253 percent increase from 2015), processed foods (202 percent increase from 2015), and fresh fruits (76 percent increase from 2015).”

“Meat imports are expected to grow at an annual rate of 11 percent, from 15,000 tons in 2018 to 37,000 by 2030. Fruit and vegetable imports are also expected to increase at an annual rate of 5 percent, reaching 48,000 tons by 2030. Although Cambodia has a domestic dairy industry, imports are expected to increase at an annual rate of 6 percent, reaching 2,000 tons by 2030.”