‘Food processing industry keen on new products’ | Sunday Observer

‘Food processing industry keen on new products’

 Sarath Alahakoon
Sarath Alahakoon

An SME-led export oriented approach is necessary to link the local food processing industry to the global value chain. We need to encourage the SMEs to reach the international market by facilitating their market access needs and technology upgrading, Sri Lanka Food Processors Association President Sarath Alahakoon said.

“The government should support the industry which looks forward to develop new products and ideas and to supply differentiated products to the global market.

The demand for processed food is growing locally as well as globally and this is an ideal opportunity to capture the demand by embarking on product innovation,” he said.

The 18th edition of the Pro Food Pro Pack Ag Biz Expo organised by the Sri Lanka Food Processors Association with Lanka Exhibition and Conference Services is being held at the BMICH Colombo.

The three-day expo which consists of 290 stalls is considered as the largest of its kind in the food processing industry. The expo concludes today.

The food processing industry is adopting to the technological development in the field to meet the world standards and produce a quality product to be up to the market requirements. As innovation plays a key role in food value chain, the industry is constantly working towards innovative production process and new products to reach market expectations, he said.

“The food sector should focus on value addition to the local food industry. To encourage this, it is necessary to give good farm gate price for the farmers in order to maintain price stability. The agriculture which provides the correct push needs to be geared to meet the challenges of today. The exhibition is an ideal platform to showcase the capabilities of the industry stakeholders under one roof,” Chairman National Agri Business Council, A. Junaid said.

All stakeholders of the agriculture sector should work together. To this end there needs to be thought leadership, robust and an action oriented mechanism where the critical issue of productivity in the sector could be overcome, he said.

“The efforts taken in the past to take agriculture to the next level could be termed as ‘fractured efforts’. Among the critical challenges facing agriculture are linking rural growers to international and local value chains, addressing labour shortages where mechanisation of activities could play a key role and lack of cohesive policy framework to encourage the cultivation of high value-added crops,” he said.

The food sector accounts for 40 percent of the SMEs in the country which have generated 1.5 million job opportunities where the industry value is over Rs. 100 million.