The Sri Lanka Food Processors Association recently held its 22nd Annual General Meeting at the Winchester Hall of the Kingsbury Hotel in Colombo.
Founded in 1997 as an advocacy group, the Sri Lanka Food Processors’ Association currently consists of over 130 member companies, which include large, multinational, small and medium enterprises committed to the development of the country’s processed food and beverage industry.
The association consists of members from all relevant subsectors addressing issues such as national policy and regulations, intra-regional cooperation, technology, knowledge transfers and marketing. The association further offers leadership to the small but vibrant national processed food industry, which is vital to the island nation’s agro-based economy and directly employs over 300,000 people, while supporting over four million back stream producers.
The association’s new main committee comprises President Nishan Perera, First Vice President Damitha Perera, Second Vice President Thusith Wijesinghe, Third Vice President Wasantha Chandrapala, Secretary Aruna Senanayake, Assistant Secretary Lasantha Ratnayake, Treasurer Nadishan Guruge, Assistant Treasurer Amila Weerasinghe, Immediate Past President Sarath Alahakoon, President Elect Delano Dias and Past President Maliek De Alwis.
The rest of the committee members are Sanjeewa De Silva, Jayanga Perera, Dilanga De Fonseka, Hemantha Balasuriya, Ruwan Kumara, Sameera Jayathilaka, Roshan Ranawaka, Dilan Gonawala, Rasika Seniviratne and Kolitha Amarasinghe.
The keynote speaker at the occasion was Frank Hess, the Head of Development Corporation of the European Union in Sri Lanka and the Maldives and of the Delegation of the European Union to Sri Lanka. In his address, Hess spoke on the topic of ‘Opportunities for Sri Lankan Food Processors in the EU market’, commenting on the fact that the EU market, which comprises the EU and European Economic Zone, is Sri Lanka’s largest trading partner with a share of 16% of total trade in 2018. According to Hess, nearly 30% of Sri Lanka’s total exports, valued at € 2.8 billion, go to Europe. With 500 million consumers, the EU has a € 75 billion food and beverage import market with an annual projected increase of 2-3%, making it the world’s largest single market.
“Surveys by Eurobarometer in 2019 indicate that food origin is the most important criteria followed by price, food safety, taste, nutritional content and ethics in determining purchases for F&B products. Pleasure, health, physical convenience and ethics, on-demand delivery, a clean label, veganism and vegetarianism, personalised nutrition, value addition, fortification, farm-to-fork traceability, fair production, links to corporate social responsibility and decent labour are some of the important consumer trends. Consumer awareness on food safety is foreseen to increase. Regarding labelling and packaging, EU consumers support the transition to a circular economy comprising reusability, recyclability or compostability. Innovation and technology play an important role, ending up with food waste management,” stated Hess.