Food industry to the fore
- Industry and Commerce Ministry continuously supported us during the last years, says industry
- Will continue support and infuse R&D too, says Rishad
- 217 firms and multinationals from Sri Lanka, Argentina, India, Turkey, Thailand and Pakistan at the event
- Lanka food exports surge by 41% in 2011 to $ 95 m, says Rishad
As Sri Lanka’s processed food exports rose by 41% topping $ 95 m in 2011, the food industry lavished praise on the Industry and Commerce Ministry for its continued support to sustain growth in this crucial sector.
“Both food and packaging sectors in Sri Lanka have seen rapid modernisation and expansion in recent times. As a result of development vision of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, many concessions have been offered to these sectors and thus, exports from the processed food industry last year stood at US$ 94.84 million, which was a considerable increase of 41 per cent in 2011 compared to 2010,” announced Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen addressing the inauguration of the three-day ‘Profood/Propack International Exhibition 2012’ yesterday at the BMICH.
The 11th in the series of exhibitions, ‘Profoods/Propack & Agbiz 2012,’ the most comprehensive agriculture-based processed food/packaging exhibition is back with a new look with a complete one-stop-shop solution, this year’s theme being ‘From the Farm to the Kitchen’. Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa was the Guest of Honour.
The organisers for the 2012 show have outlined numerous concurrent events to promote and market ‘Profoods/Propack & Agbiz,’ making it a must for all organisations involved in processed food, packaging and agriculture.
The exhibition, facilitated by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, had only 46 companies taking part when it began in 2001, and today has 217 firms participating from Sri Lanka, India, Italy and Pakistan, as well as an SME pavilion for the growing importance of SMEs and a special pavilion by food and packaging industry of Kerala, India.
Among the 217 participating firms and organisations are the High Commission of Canada, Adamjee, Alli, CIC, Ceylon Biscuits, CMC Engineering Exports GmbH, EDNA Confectionaries, Elephant House, JAGRO Ltd., Maliban Biscuits, MAS Tropical Foods, Italy’s PIGO SRL, Brown & Co PLC, API Machinery, Harischandra Mills, Good Value Eswaran Ltd., Currymate, Nelna, Micro Cars, MA’s Tropical Food, MAI S.A. (from Argentina), Mahima Foliage, A. Baur Co, Hindustan Hing Supplying, Tinpak Pvt. Ltd., Unilever Lipton Ceylon Ltd., Patkol (from Thailand), Vezirkopru Orman (from Turkey), Institute of Agro Technology of University of Colombo, Gatronova Novatex (Pakistan) and Yamato Scale India Ltd.
Minister Bathiudeen, addressing the event, said: “I am pleased to inform you that Sri Lanka’s processed food and confectionery industry is reaching the upmarket segment in exports. To gain a high price at the export market and also to get a premium price from the health conscious customer, attractive and informative packaging is paramount. To this end, the food sector joining with the packaging sector is a welcome sign. In view of this, I am glad to announce that we have decided to continue Government support to the ‘Profoods/Propack’ exhibition by assisting this series in future too.
“Food processing and packaging sectors are considered priority areas in today’s context. In 2011, food and grocery sales dominated global retail sales sector and the food sector was the key driver in global retail sales which stood at US$ 14,335 billion. More importantly, 2011 growth was also led by Asia and Pacific regions. Both food and packaging sectors in Sri Lanka have seen rapid modernisation and expansion in recent times.”
Sri Lanka’s growing food and beverage industry sector has now more than 4,400 establishments with close to 132,000 people engaged in it.
“We believe that this sector to be fast growing in our exports which shows high potential for further expansion. My Ministry is keen on giving maximum support to develop this industry. We are working closely with the private sector through the advisory committees to identify development needs and implement appropriate programmes. We believe more attention needed on research and development, certification and testing, staff training while certain changes also, needed in the area of fiscal policies. We also believe biotechnology and eco-farming can assist us to expand our processed food sector to the next level,” said Badiudeen.
“Realising the growing importance of SMEs in the value chain, this time also my Ministry is hosting a special pavilion to accommodate micro, small and medium industries so that our SME integration continues well. As a result of the awareness programmes we conducted in outside regions, we notice strong demand from SMEs for this pavilion. In addition special concessions have also been provided to the universities in order to encourage their participation.”
Praising Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa’s commitment and efforts to develop Sri Lanka exports, Minister Bathiudeen said: “I commend Minister Basil Rajapaksa for his committed efforts to develop our exports which he fulfils even at a personal level. His attention is an example for us to follow. For example, yesterday (5 July) evening, Minister Basil personally telephoned me to alert me of a problem being faced by a Sri Lankan durian fruit exporter to Korea. I thereafter immediately summoned my officials and directed them to take immediate action and inquire as to what went wrong. We are now working on this issue.”
Mario De Alwis, Chairman of the Processed Food Development Initiative, the top independent food Industry facilitator, praised the Ministry of Industry and Commerce for its continued efforts to sustain the sector.
“Michael Porter, the competitiveness guru, once said that sustainable competitive advantage is not only in making the most from a country’s environment. Firms must work together and collaborate to create a competitive base to launch their products to the global economy. Though this statement was made during the height of globalisation, in today’s global downturn, this collaboration should not only extend among industry players but all key player in the supply chain-that is the state, industry and the political community. Thanks to the efforts of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce over the last 11 years, we managed to bring the farmers, industry and political community together here. Collaboration has become even more important in the current economic climate,” De Alwis explained.
Many international exhibitor participants were upbeat on the continued rise of the ‘Profood’ exhibition series.
“I have heard of this exhibition and was planning for some time to come here and I am here at last,” said Asif Manzur Malik, Deputy Manager of Gatron Industries and Novatex Industries of Karachi, Pakistan. “The moment I walked in to the premises to set up my stall, I knew this was a promising effort. I believe that the next three days in Colombo would be successful for us.”