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Three firms join food market drive for red zones

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Virak Buntham Express is selling groceries such as vegetables, fish and meat to 14 red-zone areas. YOUSOS APDOULRASHIM

Three firms join food market drive for red zones

Aeon Mall, Makro and Virak Buntham Express on April 26 said they will work with the Ministry of Commerce to provide essential food items for sale in designated red zones in a bid to maintain prices and stabilise the supply of goods in the market during the ongoing coronavirus lockdown in Phnom Penh and adjacent Takmao town in Kandal province.

The announcement comes days after the ministry launched an online marketplace (shop.moc.gov.kh) on April 21.

Ministry undersecretary of state Pen Sovicheat told a special live broadcast of state-owned TVK on April 26 that “at least three companies” have committed to work with the ministry to get essential goods to red zones and other restricted areas.

He said Aeon Mall, Makro and Virak Buntham Express will organise booths stocked with goods that will be uploaded to the ministry’s online marketplace.

"We will continue to work with other supermarkets to expand the sales network and add more items. We’re also considering expanding booths and showrooms, but adding more locations must be done very carefully because it could lead to transmission of Covid-19 and result in market closures," Sovicheat said.

Virak Buntham Express will launch 64 mobile units selling groceries such as vegetables, fish and meat to 14 red-zone destinations, according to director-general Suo Vireak.

He told The Post: "We think people in blockaded areas are having a hard time getting fresh food, such as vegetables, fish, meat, which we sell at reasonable prices, so I decided to join the government, getting vehicles ready to transport supplies to the people in lockdown areas."

According to Sovicheat, the ministry's measures are aimed at maintaining price stability as well as the stability of supply being transported from the provinces to Phnom Penh.

"The ministry notes that if we can properly coordinate supply, we will ensure price stability and be able to curb rising prices in these difficult circumstances. We are not supervisors for traders, we are just sales- and marketing-intervention facilitators," he said.

The ministry said that on April 25, it sold 522 50kg sacks of milled rice, 1,230 boxes of instant noodles, 384 cases of fish sauce, 366 packs of soy sauce, 894 cans of fish, 102 packs of bottled drinking water and 164 2kg bags of chhay pov – or sun-dried preserved daikon radishes.

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