Country Profiles

Beef markets and consumption

After slaughtering, beef and offal are distributed through wholesalers (in Phnom Penh) and retailers throughout the country. The wholesalers/retailers link to the butchers through networks.

Phnom Penh is the largest market for beef in Cambodia. Wholesalers buy the whole carcass from butchers after slaughtering and manage their own butchering for different markets. Beef is distributed to retail outlets early in the morning. Two major types of retail outlets in Phnom Penh are wet markets and supermarkets. Supermarkets account for a small market share compared to wet markets and restaurants.

In the provinces, carcasses are usually cut after slaughtering for transport and distribution to retailer markets. Beef is distributed and sold to consumers on the same day.

In wet markets, beef sold to consumers for in-home consumption is generally cut off in chunks from parts of carcasses. There appears little differentiation between beef products. The only cut that is readily identified is fillet due to its value to local niche local consumers and foreigners. The absence of different products is due to types of dishes that are cooked. In Cambodia, much of the beef is consumed in minced, shaved and cubed (Harding et al., 2007). Meat from any part of the carcass can be used in these dishes. A common use of beef is Samlaa Ko Phet or Tamarind Beef Curry using beef cut into thin strips. Loc Lac is another common dish that uses marinated cubed beef cooked on skewers. Beef is also used in noodle soup.

The strength of the current beef market chain is the speed with which product is used by final consumers and because it is low cost and operationally efficient. This ensures the maintenance of reasonable food safety outcomes. However, the lack of differentiation of beef products, refrigeration and uncertainties about food safety as well as lack of a granding system and common ‘beef language’ (cut descriptions) are all contributors to the fact that western hotels and restaurants import frozen boneless beef.

Figure 4 shows that meat consumption has increased slightly from 4.6 kg per capita per year in 2000 to 5.1 kg per capita per year in 2013. Beef consumption is higher than chicken, but only half of pork consumption.

Figure 4: Meat consumption in Cambodia

Source: adapted from MAFF (2013) and FAO (2014)

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