Pernod Ricard Cambodge and the Institute of Standards of Cambodia (ISC), under the Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology, and Innovation (MISTI), have come together in a groundbreaking collaboration. The partnership, sealed through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), aims to establish and enhance the standards and regulations for Cambodian rice spirit, also known as ‘Sraa Sor.’ This initiative is a significant move towards uplifting Cambodian heritage and ensuring consumer safety.
“Sraa Sor” has been ingrained in Cambodian culture for thousands of years, playing an indispensable role in customary rituals and traditional medicinal practices. Predominantly produced by rural women, this homegrown spirit isn’t just a key income source for them but also powers the local agricultural economies.
Lifting quality and safety standards
However, the traditional handcrafted production of this unique spirit often overlooks safety standards, creating a substantial health risk. As stated in the World Health Organization’s Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health (2018), nearly 50% of the alcohol consumed in Cambodia is unrecorded, leading to considerable concerns about its safety.
Addressing this issue, Pernod Ricard Cambodge and ISC have pledged to work together to ensure the safety and quality of this traditional drink. “As a leading player in the beverage industry, we feel it’s our responsibility to foster a safe environment for alcohol consumption. Considering the popularity of rice spirit in Cambodia, we believe it’s the perfect starting point for us,” said Mr. Daren Ong, Managing Director of Pernod Ricard Cambodge.
The newly signed MOU marks a significant milestone in safeguarding the Cambodian rice spirit’s heritage and uplifting its quality and safety standards. The initiative aims to cultivate national pride associated with this indigenous spirit, bolster agricultural production, support rural women’s livelihoods, and formally integrate rice spirit producers into the formal economy.
A long term commitment
Echoing this sentiment, Mr. Ong further stated, “This partnership isn’t a short-term solution, but a long-term commitment. Our role is not only limited to the development of standards and regulations but extends to their dissemination among various stakeholders, especially local distillers. The idea is to elevate Cambodian rice spirit as a source of national pride. With our decades of global experience, we’re confident about lending our expertise to the Cambodian government in this ambitious project.”
H.E. Chan Sopha, Director General of ISC, appreciated Pernod Ricard Cambodge’s initiative. He said, “Pernod Ricard Cambodge’s proactive approach in shaping an unregulated sector to meet international standards is commendable. Alongside the implementation of standards, we aim to educate local consumers about the importance of adhering to the new regulations while consuming or producing alcohol. We are also planning to work closely with law enforcement agencies to regulate and halt the production and sale of substandard alcohol.”
Marketing to the next generation
In line with these standards, Pernod Ricard Cambodge, through its Sensota brand, plans to help the local community diversify and increase their income. The company is buying directly from local distillers and re-distilling the spirit to ensure premium quality, providing an additional revenue stream to these distillers. Moreover, they’re also aiding farmers with improved agricultural training to diversify their income sources.
Additionally, the company is charting out a robust marketing strategy to raise awareness of the traditional Cambodian spirit among the younger generation. Attractive new bottle designs, collaborations with key opinion leaders to promote national pride, and innovative ready-to-drink cocktails are all part of the plan. “We’re hoping that one day, our traditional drink might be exported to international markets like Paris, fostering a stronger sense of national pride,” added Mr. Ong.
The collaboration between Pernod Ricard Cambodge and ISC promises to establish a safer and more standardized environment for alcohol consumption in Cambodia and boost the country’s pride in its traditional rice spirit.