Investing in Bamboo Sticks in Cambodia

The bamboo sticks market is divided into several segments, with the two major segments being chopsticks and toothpicks. Other bamboo stick products include barbecue sticks, incense sticks and mat and curtain sticks, which are each significant in different markets.

Bamboo based stick products are gaining market opportunity through their consumer recognition of the environmental benefits of bamboo, bamboo sticks strong competition with, and in many cases superiority over wood based products and the growth in Asian markets in particular.

Product and Market

The world market for bamboo chopsticks was estimated at USD300 million in 20061. While the world market for chopsticks is estimated for USD400 millions2. China is the biggest chopsticks producer and China is also the biggest consumer of chopsticks in the world. According to Chinese statistics in 2011, the country’s manufacturers produce 60 to 80 billion sets of chopsticks each year. Forty percent of production is used for domestic market and 60% are exported.

According to Comtrade’s statistics, China’s export of bamboo chopsticks and sticks reached USD105 million in 2008 (USD 75.5 million for chopsticks and USD29.5 million for other stick products). The major importers of Chinese chopsticks are Japan and South Korea. Japan stands in the second place in consuming chopsticks. Each year, the Japanese use 23 to 25 billion pairs of disposable chopsticks; approximately 200 pairs for each person. The usage is so high that the Japanese government added a wooden chopsticks tax. In response, importers in Japan have started buying bamboo chopsticks, a more sustainable material.Other significant consumers of chopsticks in the world are Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos PDR.Reliable data on other stick products could not be identified, but bamboo toothpicks, incense sticks and bbqskewers are ubiquitous in market places in Asia as well as western markets. Bamboo mats and curtains are very popular in Asia, and gaining market interest in Western markets. In Cambodia disposable bamboo chopsticks are very common in restaurants. At present disposable bamboo chopsticks are imported from Vietnam and China. The Cambodian demand for these types of chopsticks is estimated to be severalthousand tons/year. The GIZ-Regional Economic Development Program (RED) is currently undertaking a chopstick market study for the domestic Cambodian market.

Raw Material

Assessment of bamboo resources in Varin district, Siem Reap demonstrate that suitable species and quantities are available. Planned support to plantation development will secure long term supply. Russei Prey is the predominant suitable material.

A small workshop with a low technology production line, producing 30 tons/year of finished products, will consume about 300 tons/yr of fresh bamboo culms. While a high technology factory for with an output capacity of 250 tons/year of finished products will need 1,000 tons/year.

Financials

According to Comtrade’s statistics, China’s export of bamboo chopsticks and sticks reached USD105 million in 2008 (USD 75.5 million for chopsticks and USD29.5 million for other stick products). The major importers of Chinese chopsticks are Japan and South Korea. Japan stands in the second place in consuming chopsticks. Each year, the Japanese use 23 to 25 billion pairs of disposable chopsticks; approximately 200 pairs for each person. The usage is so high that the Japanese government added a wooden chopsticks tax. In response, importers in Japan have started buying bamboo chopsticks, a more sustainable material.Other significant consumers of chopsticks in the world are Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos PDR.Reliable data on other stick products could not be identified, but bamboo toothpicks, incense sticks and bbqskewers are ubiquitous in market places in Asia as well as western markets. Bamboo mats and curtains are very popular in Asia, and gaining market interest in Western markets. In Cambodia disposable bamboo chopsticks are very common in restaurants. At present disposable bamboo chopsticks are imported from Vietnam and China. The Cambodian demand for these types ofchopsticks is estimated to be severalthousand tons/year. The GIZ-Regional Economic Development Program (RED) is currently undertaking a chopstick market study for the domestic Cambodian market.

[1] Oxfam Hong Kong – International Finance Corporation 2006.
[2] Inclusive USD 100 million for wooden chopsticks and chopsticks made of other materials like plastic and steel.

For more information, please contact:

Mr Torsten Münther (English)                Mr Khim HENG (Khmer and English)
Economic Development                          Advisor Value Chain Coordinator
Tel.: 012 272 139                                      Tel.: 089 59 56 68
torsten.muenther@giz.de                       khim.heng@giz.de

GIZ-Regional Economic Development Program (RED) Green Belt – Siem Reap Province

lami7

Administrative City Siem Reap

P.O. Box 93221
17000 Siem Reap Angkor, Cambodia
Tel: (855)-063 76 03 04, Fax: (855)-063 76 19 31

Processing Technology

Astandard manufacturing process of bamboo sticks is described in the diagram below. The production capacity can be varied from 30 tons to 250 tons of finished product per year depending on scales of investment and technology application. Machinery and equipment can be purchased in China or Vietnam. A simple equipment system costs around USD10,000 while a set of advanced equipment and high technology can cost up to USD50,000.

Bamboo sticks technologies are divided into two levels:

  1. Low technology is very simple and the lowest capital investment requirement, but the rate of utilization of raw bamboo materials is low (8-10%). This results in high volumes of waste and residue, and a lower commercial value of finished products;
  2. High technology is only slightly more complicated and requires higher capital investment. It’s higher utilization rates (20-25%) and usually superior products usually provide for better financial scenarios for investors

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