CEO Kenny Matthews, 27, spent two years on a Mormon mission in Cambodia. He returned two years ago to teach entrepreneurship classes and decided to start his own business. His father, who is currently in Cambodia, likes livestock, and Matthews didn’t love the milk in Southeast Asia, which brought them to the idea for a dairy.
The dairy is in proof-of-concept phase, but has sold around $10,000 worth of milk since April,with its cow herd arriving in January—now numbering about 50, according to Matthews. One buyer, Posh Nosh deli bakery owner Jay Miller, told The Phnom Penh Post he had a hard time keeping enough Moo Moo Farms in stock.
In the long run, Matthews wants to offer his company’s milk to schools and orphanages at no cost or near to it. The five-year plan is to increase its herd to a few thousand. For now, Matthews is seeking new investment for equity.
The company already has $300,000 in backing from private investors, according to its Crowdfunder page, but is looking for $1 million to $2 million more to meet market demand and keep its first-mover advantage, Matthews said.
The demand for milk is growing. Cambodia imported more than $17.5 million in milk and cream in 2014 from world partners, according to the UN Commodity Trade Statistics Database, more than three times the $5.6 million in 2013.
Though Cambodians typically don’t consume that much milk, Rabobank senior analyst Michael Harvey said that could change.
“Cambodia is a milk-deficit market, meaning demand outstrips local supply,” he said in an email, adding the country offered promising dairy market opportunities. “Dairy consumption is a [function of] dietary changes, income growth and urbanisation. As these economic settings improve in Cambodia, this will underpin a growing demand for milk and dairy products—but this is a long-term demand profile.”
Moo Moo Farms isn’t trying to make people drink milk who don’t already just yet. Matthews says the company aims to capitalise on the current market of milk buyers and move them over to high-quality fresh milk.
The micro-dairy already offers raw, unpasteurised milk as well as fresh milk, which is cooked differently than the high-temperature processed (UHT) milk also available on Cambodian shelves, and which Moo Moo Farms says has lost much of its nutritional content and flavour due to high-temperature pasteurisation.
“The expat market has been extremely receptive but then the Cambodians themselves take a lot of pride in that this is milk created in Cambodia—and also really enjoy the fresh taste,” Matthews said. “It’s had an extremely positive response, and that’s one reason we’re ready to scale: to try to meet more of that market demand.”