Commerce Minister Proposes ‘Extra Premium’ Rice Brand

At the close of the three-day annual Cambodia Rice Forum, Commerce Minister Sun Chanthol on Tuesday suggested that the first-rate rice brand set to be launched on the international market this year be marketed as “Extra Premium” jasmine rice.

Exporters have long marketed their rice under a range of brand names and varietals, but the ministries of commerce and agriculture, as well as the Cambodia Rice Federation, have been pushing for a singular trademark as the country seeks to expand exports.

In October, Mr. Chanthol met with British trade envoy David Puttnam and tried to push for the branding of “Phka Romduol”—a varietal that has reaped global awards for years. Mr. Puttnam, however, suggested coming up with a catchier name for the international market.

Speaking on Tuesday, Mr. Chanthol offered another possibility.

“I propose an ‘Extra Premium Cambodia Jasmine Rice,’ but we have to conduct a study on the market effect of the brand and we need to spend money to promote the brand of our rice. If we don’t spend money, our rice will not be well- known,” he said.

The commerce minister said he would meet with members of the rice federation and other industry players to discuss the possible branding as well as fundraising.

Song Saran, CEO of rice exporter Amru Rice, said he liked the new name and felt it was fitting for rice that won “World’s Best Rice” at the World Rice Conference in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

“The name of the rice should be unique and fit the quality of the Cambodian rice. So, his suggestion is correct because we have won the best rice status for three years and it fits these achievements,” he said.

But the Ministry of Agriculture, which has long pushed for the branding of Phka Romduol, was not convinced.

Hean Vanhan, deputy director of the ministry’s general directorate of agriculture, said he did not believe the proposed brand would help the country’s rice market.

“We should show buyers that this is Phka Romduol rice, this is Phka Romdeng rice and this is Phka Romeat rice because it is the right of the buyers to choose any of them,” Mr. Vanhan said.

“The value is not in the name ‘extra’ or ‘super,’ the value is that buyers can notice what rice they eat and will seek to buy it again next time,” he said.

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