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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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HNB supports Sri Lanka Welfare Society of Blind Women

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Supporting the livelihoods of visually impaired women, Sri Lanka’s most customer friendly bank HNB PLC donated 300 white canes and dry ration packs to the members of the Sri Lanka Welfare Society of the Blind Women.

The donations made utilizing voluntary contributions gathered by HNB employees, were handed over to members of the Society at a special event at HNB Towers under the patronage of HNB Managing Director and CEO Jonathan Alles.

“HNB is proud to partner with the Sri Lanka Welfare Society of the Blind Women to serve the visually impaired women of the country. Our goal is to do our part in ensuring they are given opportunities, recognition and respect that are equal to every other citizen, and we hope that partnerships of this nature will pave the way for a more inclusive and caring society,” HNB Managing Director and CEO, Jonathan Alles said.

With 252 customer centres across the country, HNB is one of Sri Lanka’s largest, most technologically innovative banks, having won local and global recognition for its efforts to drive forward a new paradigm in digital banking. Over the recent past, the bank was ranked among the World Top 1,000 Banks list compiled by the prestigious UK-based Banker Magazine. HNB has a national rating of AA- (lka) by Fitch Ratings (Lanka) Ltd.

HNB was also declared Best Sub-Custodian Bank in Sri Lanka at the Global Finance Awards 2020, in addition to winning the coveted Best Retail Bank in Sri Lanka Award for the 11th time at the Asian Banker Awards 2020, in recognition of its sustainable growth and continuous improvements in processes, products and services amidst a challenging macroeconomic environment.

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People’s Insurance enters Medical Insurance market with ‘the most comprehensive medical insurance cover available in Sri Lanka’

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In an unprecedented effort to enhance its product offerings to customers across Sri Lanka, People’s Insurance PLC recently announced its plans to diversify into the health insurance space of the country. This strategic move to establish its presence as a health insurance provider builds on the well-established public image of People’s Insurance as the insurer who cares with love.

As the market is already heavily saturated with health insurance products offered by the competition, Peoples Insurance had the strategic objective of offering a product to make them stand out from the rest. Following a customer first approach, the insurer has decided to be a step above its competitors by offering a highly comprehensive medical insurance cover available in the country.

Citizens of Sri Lanka and those individuals who currently reside in the country are eligible to obtain a medical insurance cover from People’s Insurance. Individuals can be covered from their 5th birthday onwards. However, infants from the age of 3 months can also be protected by these covers provided that their parents have a medical cover from People’s Insurance too.

Jeevani Kariyawasam, the Head of Operations at People’s Insurance PLC commented on this new development, “When People’s Insurance PLC began to contemplate our entry into the health insurance sector, we knew we had to be different. As we are known as the only insurer who cares with love, our health insurance product had to reflect this strongly. Due to this, we decided to position ourselves as an insurance provider with a highly comprehensive product in the health insurance space. With affordable premiums, we have made every effort to ensure that Sri Lankans can enjoy the peace of mind that health insurance brings about.”

Medical schemes will vary from Rs. 100,000 to Rs. 2 million and premiums will depend on the sum insured, along with the customer’s age band. It is also noteworthy that the geographical scope of treatment extends beyond Sri Lanka and into India as well. Costs related to ambulance call outs, inpatient proceedings, surgical treatments, pharmaceuticals, diagnostics and pre and post hospitalization expenses are just a few of the areas that this comprehensive product covers.

As People’s Insurance PLC has a trusted and well established name in the minds of Sri Lankan customers, it is expected that their entrance into the medical insurance sector will be welcomed by citizens across the island. With the underlying goal of caring for its customers beyond anything else, this new development will allow for more Sri Lankans access to proper healthcare services. This decision truly resonates with a purpose beyond profit initiative.

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Browns Investments purchases 9.9 percent stake in HNB, boosting market

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By Hiran H. Senewiratne

CSE activities were positive but not bullish yesterday. Besides, the CSE announcement on a transaction where Browns Investments purchased a 9.9% stake in HNB plus last minute buying interest brought a positive note to the stock market, analysts said. Browns Investments bought 42 million HNB shares in the price range of Rs. 125.75 and Rs. 132.25 for RS 5.3 billion.

This quantum of shares or 9.9 % percent stake of HNB purchased by Brown Investments happened during the months of April and May, market sources said. Amid those developments both indices were positive. All Share Price Index was up by 45.85 points. Turnover stood at Rs. 890.3 million with a single crossing. The crossing is from Sampath Bank which crossed 500000 shares to the tune of RS 26 million and its shares traded at Rs. 52.

In the retail market, top five companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were, J K H RS 189 million (1.4 million shares traded), Browns Investments Rs. 181 million (27.8 million shares traded),Expo Lanka Rs. 53.8 million (1.2 million shares traded), Sampath Bank 50.2 million (1 million shares traded)and Royal ceramic Rs. 47.3 million (1.4 million shares traded). During the day 74.2 million share volume changed hands in 10600 transactions.

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