Guide to shipping food & agricultural products

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Cambodia’s food and agricultural industry serves as a vital lifeline to its economy, with the country reaping significant earnings from its agricultural exports. In 2022 alone, the agricultural sector has contributed 22% to the country’s overall GDP, as per a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), further highlighting its critical role in the nation’s economic development and stability. 

However, this success story isn’t just about local prosperity; it underscores the indispensable role of proficient shipping and logistics in propelling Cambodia’s economy forward. Efficient shipping and logistics enable the seamless movement of goods from farms to global markets, all while facilitating deliveries and minimising spoilage of perishable food. Additionally, robust shipping networks expand market access, allowing Cambodian products to reach diverse international markets, thereby increasing revenue.

Businesses looking to improve their market reach and operational efficiency can significantly benefit from learning the fundamentals of global food transportation.

Regulations and compliance 

As a rule of thumb, those in the food and agriculture trade need to familiarise themselves with import and export regulations. When it comes to exports, Cambodian businesses must navigate a landscape dotted with international standards that dictate market entry. Compliance is non-negotiable, and it ranges from food safety to packaging norms. As for imports, the process is similarly intricate, with various commodities subject to stringent quantitative limitations and requiring approval from the appropriate government ministries. 

Besides these distinct licenses and permits, importers must now submit an authorisation certificate for imported food, as promulgated by the new food safety law. This intricate dance of documentation and regulation is central to mastering customs clearance in Cambodia.

Furthermore, a keen awareness of prohibited and restricted items is essential. Ignorance can be costly, leading to seized shipments, financial penalties, and significant disruptions in global shipping and logistics operations.

Preparing your shipment

The shipment of food and agricultural products internationally is laden with challenges, particularly when crossing borders. Here are a few key things you would need to take into account:

1. Packaging and labelling requirements

Effective packaging and labelling are the cornerstones of successful food shipping, acting as the initial safeguard for preserving the quality and safety of perishable food items, including frozen products. They are essential measures designed to protect the products from physical damage, temperature variations, and contamination, ensuring that they endure the stresses of transportation. 

By adhering to these standards, businesses can guarantee that their food products maintain their integrity from the moment they leave the production facility until they reach the consumer, arriving in a condition that meets both regulatory requirements and customer expectations.

When preparing the labels for your imported goods, do remember to include detailed information about nutrition as well as good safety and consumer protection. As per Cambodia’s food safety regulations, these labels have to be written in Khmer.

2. Handling and storage considerations

Shipping frozen products and other perishables demands meticulous handling and storage. The integrity of the cold chain must be maintained at every juncture to prevent spoilage. This involves strategic pre-cooling procedures, robust insulation techniques, and the judicious use of refrigerants to maintain optimal temperatures during transit. 

Additionally, real-time temperature monitoring and management systems are often employed to provide continuous oversight of the products’ condition, enabling immediate corrective actions if any deviations occur. These considerations are non-negotiable for preserving the high quality of Cambodia’s agriculture exports.

3. Documentation needed for customs clearance

The process of customs clearance in Cambodia is underpinned by thorough documentation, an aspect that might seem mundane but is fundamentally critical to the smooth passage of goods across borders. A comprehensive dossier for customs clearance is not merely a formality but a detailed record that supports the legitimacy and safety of the transported goods. It typically includes health certificates, which verify that food and agricultural products are safe for consumption and free from harmful contaminants.

Moreover, businesses must furnish proof of compliance with both import and export regulations, demonstrating adherence to the myriad laws governing the trade of goods. This may involve certifications of origin, which confirm where the goods were produced and attest to their compliance with trade agreements between Cambodia and the destination country.

A comprehensive commercial invoice is also essential, detailing the shipment’s contents, including a description of the goods, their quantity, and value. This invoice is vital for customs officials to assess duties and taxes accurately. It should also specify the origin and destination of the goods, providing a clear trace of their journey from producer to consumer.

4. Choosing the right shipping method

Selecting the optimal shipping method is a pivotal decision for businesses, especially when it involves the transport of food products. This choice largely depends on the specific requirements of the goods being shipped, the target market’s location, and the delivery timeline. Each mode of transport – air, sea, and land – offers distinct advantages and considerations.

Air freight is ideal for perishable foods that require the fastest possible transit to maintain freshness. While typically more expensive than other methods, air shipping minimises the time goods spend in transit, reducing the risk of spoilage. This method is best suited for high-value agricultural products or perishables where speed outweighs cost concerns.

Sea freight, on the other hand, offers a cost-effective solution for bulk shipments that are not time-sensitive. It is suitable for transporting large quantities of non-perishable food products or those with a longer shelf life, like frozen food. Sea shipping’s lower cost makes it an attractive option for businesses looking to optimise logistics expenses, although it involves longer transit times compared to air freight.

Land transport is often used for domestic shipments or short international routes. It provides flexibility for door-to-door delivery and can be a practical option for businesses operating within Cambodia or in close proximity to its borders. Trucks and rail offer variable speed and cost options, depending on the urgency and budget constraints.

Ensuring your success in agriculture import and export

Cambodia’s food and agricultural industry’s successful penetration into global markets underscores the sector’s resilience and significance of the sector. This success is tightly linked with the efficacy of shipping and logistics systems, highlighting the necessity for robust and efficient logistics solutions to navigate the complexities of international trade. Efficient and strategic logistics are fundamental for businesses shipping agricultural products to and from Cambodia, ensuring timely deliveries, preserving product quality, and expanding market access.

With its proven track record in global shipping, DHL Express Cambodia emerges as an invaluable partner for these enterprises. By collaborating with DHL Express, companies can ensure their products are transported with care, efficiency, and adherence to international standards. This partnership not only aids in overcoming logistical hurdles but also in tapping into new markets and opportunities via DHL’s vast network.

For those involved in importing and exporting Cambodian agricultural products, DHL Express offers tailored solutions that address the unique challenges of shipping perishable and non-perishable foods. With DHL’s delivery services, businesses can navigate the intricacies of customs clearance, regulatory compliance, and timely delivery, facilitating the smooth flow of Cambodia’s agricultural products both into and out of the country.

Open a business account with DHL Express today to ensure your success in agricultural trade today.