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Palm oil ban in Sri Lanka: Is it sustainable?

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By Erandathie Pathiraja

Sri Lanka’s edible oil market has received considerable attention in recent weeks due to a series of events: the banning of palm oil importation in a bid to promote the coconut industry, detection of aflatoxins in imported coconut oil, importation of coconut kernel chips, issuing license for palm oil imports, and banning of oil palm cultivation.

The edible oil industry is important for Sri Lanka. Oils and fats are a major constituent of the typical Sri Lankan diet and a raw material in manufacturing, in particular the food manufacturing industry. According to the latest available data, there are around 5,057 establishments employing 332,828 workers in the formal food manufacturing sector which generate an annual output of approximately LKR 1.4 billion. This blog assesses the local edible oil market and its potential for import substitution.

Sri Lanka’s Edible Oil Market

The demand for domestic edible oils comes from two segments: households and industries. Data from the 2016 Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) of the Department of Census and Statistics (DCS) show that an average household consumes 1.6 litres of fats and oils per month and the annual consumer demand is around 96,249 MT, with coconut oil being the main source of edible oil (Figure 1). Industrial demand in 2020 can be approximated to 167,372 MT.

This demand for edible oils in the country is met by locally produced oils as well as imported oils. Coconut oil and palm oil are the local edible oil sources. In 2020, total edible oil production was 44,326 MT. Coconut oil production was 19,759 MT which depends on annual coconut production. Crude palm oil and palm kernel oil production was 24, 567 according to the Coconut Development Authority (CDA). According to the CDA, the quantity of imported fats and oils in 2020 was 219,295 MT. A range of edible oils are imported to meet industrial demand and partially to meet household demand (Figure 2). The foreign exchange outflow in 2020 was LKR 37,378 million for edible oils imports.

Total edible oil supply during 2020 was 263, 621 MT both from local production (44, 326 MT) and imports (219,295). Around 83% of the requirement is met by imports, and industrial demand is nearly two-thirds of the total demand (Figure 3).

The available data show that it is difficult to meet the edible oil demand from the local supply. The average coconut production during the last five years was around 2,792 million nuts. Nearly 65-70% of the produce is consumed as fresh coconuts (1,800 million nuts). Processing industries utilise the remaining coconuts (around 1,000 million). Around 108,108 MT of coconut oil can be produced from 1,000 million nuts at the expense of export industries, yet 155,513 MT of excess demand has to be met. Palm oil is cultivated in 12,000 Ha which is expected to produce nearly 48,000 MT. Together, coconut and palm oil can be expected to supply 156,108 MT of edible oil, which is still short of 107,513 MT of oil required to meet the consumer and industry demand.

Way Forward

Given the current context, Sri Lanka cannot meet its edible oil demand as the coconut supply is not sufficient to meet the edible oil demand, and expansion of production is difficult in the short term. Imported edible oils are an essential ingredient in food manufacturing due to its unique properties and low cost. Therefore, facilitating importation is required to meet the local demand.

Sri Lanka spends around LKR 37 billion for edible oil imports, and looking for alternatives is a sensible solution. Rice bran oil is a potential byproduct of paddy milling and it does not demand extra land for cultivation. Sri Lanka has to invest in utilising this potential resource. Measures to achieve optimum productivity from existing coconut lands are vital to reduce oil imports.



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MN Group becomes the Best Business of the Year at Pinnacals Awards

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The MN Group won the Best Business of the Year Award at the Pinnacals Sri Lanka award ceremony at the Waters Edge Hotel, Battaramulla. Managing Director of MN Group of Companies (www.mngroup.lk), Roshan Wewage accepted the award on behalf of the organization. MN Group of Companies has previously won many awards including Lanka Business Awards (LBA) and Shramabimani.

Customers can obtain any construction related service from MN Group at a reasonable price. The company is also willing to finish half completed houses and commercial buildings at agreeable terms. MN Group understands that the tough economic circumstances have placed great pressure on the people and the company is committed to understanding their needs and to provide a warm and professional service. Roshan Wewage invited those who need to renovate their buildings to reach out to them.

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Dilmah Adjudged Best Corporate Citizen for the Third Consecutive Year

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Dilmah was awarded ‘Best Corporate Citizen Sustainability’ in the category of Businesses with Less than Rs. 15 Billion Annual Turnover, for the third consecutive year at the Best Corporate Citizen Sustainability (BCCS) Awards organized by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce; recognizing that Dilmah has successfully achieved a sustainable balance between social, environmental, and economic performanc, a company news release said.

Evaluated by an independent & expert panel of judges, the awards are Sri Lanka’s most prestigious, scrutinizing and recognizing ethical and sustainable businesses. Dilmah was honoured as one of ten ‘Best Corporate Citizens’ of Sri Lanka, won the Award in the Environment Beyond Business Category, and was lauded for continuous commitment to the environment surpassing the realms of business.

“The annual BCCS Awards is the premier corporate citizenship award, highlights sustainability champions in the national corporate arena. The awards promote corporate citizen sustainability ownership and initiatives that deliver social and environmental benefits while pursuing profits. This recognition validates Dilmah’s emphasis on delivering social and environmental impact by sharing earnings through the work of the MJF Charitable Foundation and Dilmah Conservation,” the release said.

“In 1988, Merrill J. Fernando founded Dilmah, a family business, to serve humanity with kindness to people and nature, while sharing his passion for taste and goodness in tea. Over the years Dilmah has delivered over Rs. 7 billion for humanitarian benefit through the work of its charitable arm MJF Foundation and environmental arm Dilmah Conservation.

“Ensuring economic, social, and environmental sustainability exists at the heart of its operations and is integrated to every operational aspect of the business, Dilmah’s purpose is further extended through the work of the Merrill J. Fernando Charitable Foundation (MJF Foundation) and Dilmah Conservation (DC) by driving life-impacting initiatives.

“The MJF Foundation works directly with estate workers and underprivileged communities to uplift lives and empower them to pay-it-forward to their communities. Some of its core initiatives are the countrywide MJF centres, small-medium enterprises with over 2,000 small entrepreneurs, ‘Empower’ Culinary & Hospitality School, and ‘disABILITY’ teletherapy app.

“The sustainable development of people goes hand-in-hand with the planet. Dilmah Tea is a carbon neutral product manufactured at a carbon neutral facility. Further, Dilmah has pledged to achieve zero-emissions for its manufacturing process by 2030 through science-based targets. Dilmah Conservation functions under three main categories: environmental sustainability, biodiversity conservation, and education and awareness. As such, Dilmah Conservation initiatives range from butterfly to elephant conservation, climate research, adaptation and mitigation, rewilding tea gardens, conserving mangrove forests, and promoting nature-based entrepreneurship through seaweed cultivation and empowering agro-entrepreneurs.”

Winning the Best Corporate Citizen Sustainability Award 2022 is considered a top honour in the Sri Lankan corporate field. Each year, submissions are evaluated by an eminent panel of local experts, thought leaders, and academics. Dilmah considers receiving the Best Corporate Citizen Sustainability Award 2022 an important milestone in its journey as a truly sustainable brand with a purpose beyond profit.

Across the shores, Dilmah has been recognized for its attempt to take Ayurvedic wellness and goodness to the world with the help of tea. The Arana Range of Herbal Infusion Teas was voted the Product of the Year 2022 in Australia. Meanwhile, Dilmah on its 7th Consecutive Year was awarded Most Trusted Brand in New Zealand in 2022.

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DSI Tyres bags two awards at SLIM Brand Excellence 2022

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Sri Lanka’s premium tyre brand, DSI Tyres won two prestigious awards at the SLIM Brand Excellence Awards 2022, held recently in Colombo. DSI Tyres, who has already made a mark in the international markets too, won the Silver Award under the Product Brand of the Year category and the Bronze Award under the Local Brand of the Year category. These mark another important milestone in the company’s journey spanning three decades. DSI Tyres has also remained within the top three brands in Sri Lanka for three consecutive years, a significant achievement in a very competitive arena.

DSI Tyres’ role as a leading local tyre manufacturing company that continues to promote its brand in an eco-friendly manner through the use of state-of-the-art technology and continuous research and development which enables them to identify customer needs in a timely manner is the key reason behind its continuous achievements. DSI Tyres has been able to place its products optimally among the local and international customers using the latest marketing strategies. The company also places great emphasis on sustainability and has been able to expand its local and international market share maintaining continuous customer loyalty even at the most difficult periods. DSI tyres are becoming increasingly popular in the online sphere as well, due to the facilitation of online orders at the convenience of customers as well as the use of attractive digital marketing. “DSI Tyres has a special place in the people’s hearts.

We have won the people’s trust and it is the highest award we can receive. It is a great privilege for us to receive these awards, which a mark of appreciation for the work we do to maintain customer loyalty,” Managing Director of DSI Tyres Kavinda Rajapaksa said. SLIM Brand Excellence Awards is the Sri Lanka’s premier celebration of Sri Lankan brands that rewards the outstanding efforts of marketers. This gala event for this year was held at Grand Monarch Hotel, Colombo. The Chairman of DSI Tyres, Ranatunga Rajapaksa received the two awards on behalf of the company. Previously, DSI Tyres had won SLIM Turnaround Brand of the Year, Product Brand of the Year, Local Brand of the Year and many SLIM DIGIs awards.

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