Father and daughter exploring Thailand’s fruit juice standard in improving Cambodian SMEs market
Heang Srun and his daughter Rothany Srun want to develop their own fruit juice business in Cambodia, Mr. Srun’s home land.
Mr. Srun traveled from Minnesota, USA to meet his daughter in Bangkok, Thailand. Ms. Srun flew from Phnom Penh, Cambodia to see her father. They were going to visit four fruit production factories, one manufacturer, and one laboratory to learn about food standard and quality in the Thai food and beverage industry.
The four-day study trip was organized by German’s ASEAN Sustainable Agrifood Systems (ASEAN SAS) with its goal to heighten food safety and quality standard in ASEAN countries.
“Cambodian market itself in terms of production and manufacturing has been hit with so many scandals in relation to what sort of pesticide and chemical get put in the food. The SMEs in Cambodia want to improve their product safety and quality. They know that this will actually improve their business and also trust in their brand,” said Ms. Srun, a US born citizen, who has been working in Cambodia for the past five years in communication and organization development.
“From what I hear, a lot of Cambodians are interested in developing their own country that they have something to be proud of at better quality and higher standard,” she said.
On a personal note, Ms. Srun said she was very concerned about the food she ate and if she was going to start a food production factory of her family, she wanted to be able to eat the food she produces. “I am really concerned about the food I eat that what sort of ingredients they are putting into the food if there’s pesticide and chemical residues in the vegetable and the food I am eating. I want to be able to actually produce something I could also eat. I don’t want to eat pesticide and I don’t’ want to eat chemical,” she said.
This four-day study visit was planned and organized by a fruit juice factory auditor of Sure and Global Fair (SGF), a German based self-control association for fruit juice safety and quality assurance, a public private partnership of ASEAN SAS on a project “Improvement of product safety and quality for the Thai fruit juice industry” with the aim of improving the production processes of fruit juice in the Thailand.
ASEAN SAS supports responsible agriculture production for safe, healthy and affordable food to meet an increasing demand of a growing populations while, at the same time, protecting a shrinking natural resources. The Agrifood systems will only be sustainable when the value chain including, for example, farmers, processors, traders, and input suppliers are profitable while securing food safety and quality standard.
“ASEAN SAS seeks to collaborate with serious private partners to adopt food safety and quality standard and link to the market. This also includes supporting SMEs in getting benefit from ASEAN Economy Community,” said Mr. Suriyan Vichitlekarn, regional adviser of GIZ’s ASEAN SAS project.
One of the ASEAN SAS’s activities is providing advisory support for responsible business development.
Mr. Srun, business entrepreneur and vice president of QTS manufacturing for medical device outsourcing said: “Business is business, but we want to do business with responsibility. For us standard is about responsibility. For a lot of private business, at least in Cambodia, it costs money. But we want to improve the society and the community. It’s not like the rich taking advantage of the poor. We don’t want to only make money and take advantage of the consumers and our employees.
“We want to create jobs for Cambodian people that they can make a basic living and pursue their other interests and enjoy life. People are people. It doesn’t matter if they are Thais, Americans or Cambodians, but they should be able to enjoy life as people.
“We want to see Cambodian people live and eat well in their own country and make enough for their family that they don’t have to find work in other countries living in a harsh condition. We are proud that we can help people,” he said. Mr. Srun was born in Cambodia and moved to the US for over 20 years.
Ms. Srun also said about responsible business and standard that: “We talk about responsible social practice but at the end of the day it needs to be profitable. How you can talk to them [SMES] that standard can improve and widen their market scope in the future and why it should be important to them. I want to be able to show that these sorts of things are possible to do in Cambodia that you can be profitable and you can still also follow international standard.
“Food standard is important for food production if you want a better market, better product, and better image of the country,” she said.
In this four-day study visit the father-and-daughter entrepreneurs visited the pineapple product factories, coconut product factory, beverage factory, and laboratory and machinery manufacturer. The study trip was specifically designed to fit the needs and future business possibilities of the visitors.
“I like the variety of what we saw, we saw the big factory, we saw the smaller factory, and even not factory, but laboratory and manufacturer. After the visit, I saw that so many other SMEs would also benefit from it, and they would be very much interested in learning from it. It is not only about visiting the factories in Thailand but if we connect other SMEs in utilizing the different services available here [laboratory and machinery manufacturer] that are not available in Cambodia, it will eventually help their business, help them to improve the quality,” said the Ms. Srun.