Rs. 100m allocated to boost processed food sector says Rishad | Sunday Observer

Rs. 100m allocated to boost processed food sector says Rishad

Zenra are the official sponsors of the Profood Propack Agri-Biz exhibition.
Zenra are the official sponsors of the Profood Propack Agri-Biz exhibition.

The Government has allocated Rs. 100 million for the processed food industry and in particular to support the micro and medium sector entrepreneurs, Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen told guests at the launch of the ‘Pro Food Pro Pack and Agbiz 2018’ exhibition.

“We have made substantial investments to develop the food industry to promote knowledge and acceptance of Sri Lankan cuisine across the globe,” he said.

The processed food industry has made noteworthy progress over the years according to officials of the industry. However, the lack of new technology to drive innovation and growth has slowed down the pace of growth, industry experts said.

According to the Minister, a food testing laboratory has been set up by the Industrial Development Board for the benefit of the small and medium sector enterprises.

“Our aim is to get all on board and make the food industry more vibrant and a leading foreign exchange earner for the country,” the Minister said.

The Industry and Commerce Ministry has made moves to carry out aggressive food promotion and marketing campaigns to make Sri Lankan cuisine reach every plate and satisfy every palate of food-fans.

“We have launched a program to enable access to technology and we hope to expand the program islandwide,” the Minister said.

The Ministry has urged food sector companies to obtain local and international certifications to ensure safety and recognition for products. “The trade fair will be a networking platform for all sectors exhibiting products,” the minister said. Sri Lanka Food Processors Association President Maliek de Alwis said the Food Processing Industry (FPI) has widened its scope over the years with the emergence of new markets and technology.

The industry has commenced producing new items in the ready-to eat, beverages, processed and frozen fruit and vegetable product , marine and meat product categories.

The FPI opens up a plethora of business opportunities in diverse areas of the industry. However, the industry still remains largely untapped due to high packaging cost, cultural preference for fresh food, seasonality of raw materials, lack of adequate infrastructure facilities and quality control mechanism.

The listed space for the exhibition has already been grabbed with list of new exhibitors awaiting to showcase their product range, de Alwis said. He said processed food is one of the six key sectors of the rapid export development drive of the country. The Association has commenced a branding program to promote Sri Lankan cuisine overseas. The new logo depicts an array of meanings. The green and blue hues resemble the earth which yields produce and the bountiful sea. The country map at the centre topped with a food cover symbolises taking cuisine to the world. The rice sheaf and the spoon at the bottom signify food which is ready to be served.

Packaging plays a pivotal role when it comes to product marketing and the industry is optimistic of recording growth this yeas as well.

Sri Lanka Institute of Packaging President Rohan Victoria said the packaging industry has been doing well and it is upbeat about growth this year as well.

“We have been doing well during the past years as an industry that has met global packaging standards. Except for the hit from the Middle market due to the crisis in the region we have been solid growth trajectory. We have the expertise and the, technology to forge ahead,” Victoria said.

No export product could reach the end consumer outside the stipulated parameters. The AQ certificate is a must for bulk tea exports to Europe. Similarly all categories of exports has an accompanying health safety standard.

The Institute of Packaging comprises 150 members while the industry accounts for a much larger number of players.

The ‘Pro Food Pro Pack and Agbiz 2018’ exhibition will be hosted for the 17th consecutive time at the BMICH from August 3-5. The international trade fair comprising processed food, beverages, packaging and agriculture was launched in 2017.

According to the event organizers over 80 countries are expected to take part in the trade fair which is an one–stop shop for potential buyers and sellers.