In a move to better position Sri Lankan Cinnamon, the largest export spice by the country, Sri Lanka Export Development Board (SLEDB) recently branded Sri Lankan Cinnamon as ‘Pure Ceylon Cinnamon’.
SLEDB holds ownership of the trademark which is the second National Brand for agriculture products since Pure Ceylon Tea.
Janaka Ratnayake, Chairman and Chief Executive of the SLEDB said: “Branding of Pure Ceylon Cinnamon and promoting it as a global brand in target markets is very important to highlight the main characteristics of Ceylon Cinnamon and differentiate Cinnamon from Cassia to gain the competitive advantage. Accordingly, Ceylon Cinnamon will be introduced to the international market as a branded product which reflects a combination of several intrinsic characteristics”
Ratnayake also stated that SLEDB has taken steps to launch Pure Ceylon Cinnamon internationally at the Anuga Food Fair, in Cologne, Germany in October. SLEDB has also taken further steps to register the trademark in the USA and EU.
Sri Lanka is the largest producer of true Cinnamon in the world accounting for about 70% of global production and holding more than 85% percent of the world market share.
According to current statistics 31,000 hectares of land are currently being used for Cinnamon cultivation involving around 260,000 families in its cultivation. The biggest problem facing the Cinnamon industry according to Ratnayake is a shortage of Cinnamon peelers, which is a form of skilled labor.Ratnayake said that currently there are plans in place to expand land used for cinnamon cultivation by 50% within the next 3 years.
“The process of peeling is very rigorous. It’s very hard to find peelers for the industry so if we want to improve our exports I think we need to look more at value addition since such processes may not require additional peelers.”
Speaking about the labor shortage Ratnayake said: “The issue is that it is difficult to attract labourers because they have no recognition. We need to create value for the human capital. This means things like sufficient wages. We need to make sure we attract and retain them.”
According to Ratnayake wages in Cinnamon production currently accounts for 35% of production costs.
Currently only around 20% of Cinnamon is converted into value added forms while cinnamon, which maybe be harvested twice a year, is only harvested once with 10% of that not being peeled.
Sarada de silva, a member of the cinnamon trade, remarked that “with enough peelers, we can double our production without even planting a single tree.”
Ratnayake said that currently there are plans in place to expand land used for cinnamon cultivation by 50% within the next 3 years.
When asked about what sort of budget had been allocated towards marketing Pure Ceylon Cinnamon Ratnayake said: “The budget is not planned but we have no issue, we can find the money.”
Sri Lanka has earned US85 Million from Cinnamon exports in 2010 alone. Since then the industry has seen a 32% growth during the first half of 2011. Most of Sri Lankan cinnamon is sold to markets in the USA, Mexico, Peru and Ecuador. (CF)