$ 1.5 b packaging industry needs R&D boost

Saturday, 2 April 2011 00:39 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen last week called for a research and development boost for Sri Lanka’s packaging industry valued at US$ 1.5 billion.

The Minister was addressing Star Awards Night 2010 held in Colombo as the Chief Guest, organised by the Sri Lanka Institute of Packaging (SLIP). SLIP is an association of private and public sector enterprises and is considered to be the first of its kind in a developing country. SLIP conducts the Lanka Star Awards competition annually since 1987.

“It is a worldwide packaging norm that a country’s packaging industry usually consists of 2 to 3% of its GDP. This benchmark alone shows us that our packaging industry value is a minimum of 1.5 billion US $, given that our GDP now stands at US $ 50 billion mark” the Minister said.

“There are some concerns in certain areas of this industry such as product designing and diversification. Most important among them is research and development issue. For example, there is no proper material available to substitute “Tetra Pack” aseptic packaging material. If we have sufficient research and development facilities, we can easily overcome this. Therefore, I encourage the packaging industry to invest more on research and development so that our packaging serves the international competitive needs. The government will be happy to support such research and development programmes” he added.

 “We are all aware, in today’s competitive marketing efforts, packaging is what differentiates the product and what draws consumer’s attention. Therefore it is no secret that packaging has become as important as the product itself. This situation has also led to packaging taking the lead in the growth of certain industries. In addition the emerging supermarket trend in the country has made packaging the key driver of sales. All these factors show we need to further develop the Industry. Our packaging industry needs to gear up in its innovations front. This is why that an awards ceremony of this nature stands out as a critical input of its own. In fact, packaging creates a platform for industrialists for their novel ideas, researchers and university students to exhibit their innovations and even receive recognition”.

He added: “Therefore, the Ministry is keen on providing necessary support to this sector through our development programmes. We have taken steps to provide a full-fledged packaging development centre which was a much needed facility for us.  For this purpose the Ministry has already submitted a proposal to the Department of External Resources to find external sources of funding. Also, the Ministry organises training programmes in world famous International Packaging Institutes such as India Institute of Packaging, Thai Institute of Packaging etc. In this programme the Ministry bears half of the cost and the total organisation cost.  In addition, this Ministry provides many concessions for the importation of specialised packaging materials and encourages export of value added high quality packaging materials.”

The Sri Lanka Institute of Packaging conducts the Lanka Star Awards competition annually aimed at stimulating interest in improving packaging standards in Sri Lanka. Locally produced packaging materials, consumer packages and transport packages of outstanding quality are selected by a panel of experts for the award of Gold, Silver & Bronze Stars.