After spending nearly three years setting up a pasteurised milk plant, heifer houses, farm and other facilities at Kirisu dairy farm, the Khmer Fresh Milk Co Ltd is expected to begin producing fresh milk products in early August.
Khmer Times this week visited the new establishment and learned that the company brought in sophisticated technology and have worked with some of the finest Israeli dairy farm experts and agronomists from around the world to bring their skills to it.
Located 30 kilometres south of Phnom Penh, the $10 million investment is on 300 hectares of in a secluded valley in the shadow of Phnom Tamao Mountain in Takeo province.
Khmer Fresh Milk, which operates the farm and the milk processing facility, is a long-term partnership between Singapore-based Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar Development Fund II, managed by Emerging Markets Investment Advisers (EMIA) Nexasia, a Japanese fund based in Singapore, and the founders group consisting of highly successful Israeli and local Cambodian entrepreneurs.
Co-founding partner Chy Sila said his company imported 550 dairy cows from Australia. The farm was started at the end of 2017 and now is a highly sophisticated enterprise.
First, the land had to be cleared and prepared to grow grass. Second, the cow barn had to be built. Third, the pasteurised plant and other fresh and purifying facilities had to be installed. “We have achieved 99 percent of the work,” Sila said, adding the dairy cows are Holsteins, which produce a lot of milk. Milk is produced by the cows after they deliver a calf and it is extracted generally three times a day.
“Each cow gives us 25 litres on average per day for each of the 550 cows. Some is fed to the calves and the rest goes to the market. The company expect to have 20 to 30 percent of the domestic market,” he added.
There are many fresh milk products are available but most of them are imported fresh milk. When asked how Kirisu Farm is going to compete in the domestic market, Sila said: “Of course, we have to compete with imports in terms of brand recognition and the people’s preferences. However, if we compare price and quality, we are not afraid. We can say that in terms of quality, we are the best because we have the best dairy cows in the world. Our technical experts are from Israel, and they have expertise in agriculture and especially in the milk industry. Our pricing will be as same as other milk or even lower because our cost of production is lower compared with imported milk. Importers of milk have to pay taxes and have high transportation costs.” He added he believes his milk has a shelf life of 14 days if refrigerated.
Sila said there are three production plants and the biggest one is for fresh milk, butter and yoghurt. He said that there is huge demand for fresh milk in Cambodia from 20,000 to 30,000 litres a day.
Khmer Times observed dairy cow feed is mixed with a variety of grasses, corn and soybean, beer brewery grain leftovers, rice and minerals and vitamins. Each cow eats 25 kilogrammes of feed per day.
The company grow their own grass, corn and beans. At present, the farm has two types of milk refinery machines. The small milk refinery facility is used for testing and making samples, but the big pasteurised milk plant is for delivering the best quality milk in the market.
“For us, there is a big opportunity in the domestic market. We are not thinking of exports.” Most of the milk is sold in the capital, not in rural areas because of the need for refrigeration. “In the future, we will think how we can expand our market to the countryside,” Sila added.
Kirisu Farm focuses on hygiene aligned with international standards. “We have local and international companies to assess the cow feed, care of the cows and milk production, said Uriel Rahamim, founder and director of Kirisu Farm.
“We follow the HACCP [Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point] standard, to make sure that the consumers receive the highest quality of milk.” HACCP is a management system in which food safety is addressed through the analysis and control of biological, chemical, and physical hazards from raw material production, procurement and handling, to manufacturing, distribution and consumption of the finished product. “We have a laboratory which is very advanced. Every day we test the milk at least three or four times.”