The Cambodian palm wine company Confirel is looking to sell its wine made from palm juice and ginger to markets in the US, Japan and Australia, said Te Laurent, the company’s managing director.
Confirel’s palm juice has sold well in European countries in the past three years, prompting the company to look for other markets.
“Our product is the same quality as wine made in France,” Te Laurent said.
Confirel’s factory, located in Kompong Speu province, can produce two bottles of wine from one liter of palm juice. If there is more demand in new markets, Confirel plans to set up another palm wine factory in Kompong Chhnang province by the end of 2004.
The factory has been profitable for both Confirel and local farmers.
Confirel buys 1,000 liters of fresh palm juice from local farmers every day, and plans to buy 2,000 liters per day if international demand picks up, Te Laurent said. The company pays farmers about $0.03 per liter of palm juice.
“This is extra money they can earn besides rice farming,” he said, adding that each farmer can make about $5 per day.
Cambodia has about three million palm trees, mostly located in Kompong Speu, Kompong Chhnang and Kompong Thom provinces. In 2001, hundreds of palm trees in Kompong Thom were cut illegally and exported to Vietnam.
“I don’t see anyone cutting palm trees for export anymore,” said Som Sophat, second deputy governor of Kompong Thom. “I believe people now understand the benefit of the palm trees.”
Sok Siphana, secretary of state at the Ministry of Commerce, said the government is encouraging the wine factory to increase its production capacity. The ministry hopes to find an expert to help develop the palm wine industry, he said.
Besides wine, the government is hoping businesses will start selling palm juice overseas. “This shows that we can sell many other fruit juices in the near future,” Sok Siphana said.