Kampong Speu province’s palm sugar this week was awarded geographical indication status in the European Union.
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The European Commission on Tuesday announced that Kampong Speu Palm Sugar has been registered as a protected designation of origin and a protected geographical indication (PGI).
It becomes only the second Cambodian product to earn the distinction in the European bloc after Kampot pepper in 2016.
Known in Khmer as ‘Skor Thnot Kampong Speu’, Kampong Speu Palm Sugar is made from the sap of the palm sugar tree and is characterised by a rich aroma and a light brown colour that resembles pumpkin.
Sam Saroeun, president of Kampong Speu Palm Sugar Promotion Association, said he expects orders to increase and the price to remain stable.
“I am glad that our product was finally registered as a protected geographical indication. It was the culmination of our hard work in cooperation with the Cambodian government, particularly the Ministry of Commerce,” Mr Saroeun told Khmer Times yesterday.
“The PGI will keep price levels stable which means farmers will enjoy higher living standards. It will also serve to protect the name of the product,” he said.
Kampong Speu Palm Sugar is now exported to 25 countries in Asia and the EU, according to Mr Saroeun, who added that the PGI label will help protect the product against counterfeits.
“Now that we have obtained the PGI, I want to see orders from new markets like China increase. This will mean we have to increase production, which will generate more jobs and increase incomes for farmers,” Mr Saroeun said.
Op Rady, director of Intellectual Property at the Ministry of Commerce, said the PGI label is key to protecting Cambodian products in Europe.
“When we start shipping to new countries, we must ensure we do all we can from a legal standpoint to protect our products. Now with the PGI in place, if fake Kampong Speu Palm Sugar is found, we can ask the authorities of that country to take action,” Mr Rady said.
Kampong Speu Palm Sugar attained geographical indication (GI) status in Cambodia in 2016. Soon after it earned the same distinction in Thailand and Vietnam.
In October 2017, Cambodia applied to register the name ‘Skor Thnot Kampong Speu’ as a PGI in the Official Journal of the European Union.
With 168 farmers, last year the Kampong Speu Palm Sugar Promotion Association produced 300 tonnes of the product. This year, 350 tonnes are expected.
The association sells palm sugar to processing and exporting companies at approximately $1,325 per tonne. It produces four types of palm sugar – palm sugar, paste palm sugar, block palm sugar, and syrup palm sugar.
The sap of the palm sugar tree is collected and processed in three districts – Oudong and Samrong Torng districts in Kampong Speu province and Ang Snuol district in Kandal.
There are no plans to apply for new PGIs in the EU, according to Mr Rady.