Sri Lanka’s national food and packaging expo opens in Colombo

Sri Lanka’s most comprehensive food, beverage and packaging exhibition, Pro Food-Pro Pack & Agbiz 2016 exhibition opened Friday (12) at the Sirimavo Bandaranaike Memorial Exhibition Centre in Colombo under the patronage of the Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen.

“As we launch the 15th Pro-food/Pro Pack we can be satisfied that this has become one of the largest food, beverages, packaging, and agri-business fairs in South Asia,” Minister Bathiudeen said addressing the opening of the exhibition series organized by his Ministry with Sri Lanka Food Processors Association (SLFPA) today.

This year’s event packs 280 local and foreign exhibitors displaying 300 stalls with more than 100 foreign delegates coming from India, China, Holland, and Poland, along with an industry delegation from Qatar.

Joining Minister Bathiudeen at the launch were Primary Industries Minister Daya Gamage, Deputy German Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives Michael Dohmen, President of Sri Lanka Food Processors Association Maliek De Alwis and Chairman of National Agri Business Council Rizvi Zaheed.

The Minister said the expo is a one stop shop for business, trade and a networking platform for the food, beverage and packing sectors.

There has been much progress in the processed food sector by way of improvements in technology, packaging, product development and marketing since the launch of this series in 2001 by the Ministry, he noted.

“It is also good to note that the local and overseas participation have been significantly improving and growing,” said Minister Bathiudeen and added that his Ministry has been actively promoting the food and packaging sector.

“The reason is that there is a great number of micro and SME enterprises active in this industry. In fact we believe that more than 40% of our SMEs are in food processing sector. This sector is therefore highly significant in our planning. Therefore my ministry has allocated more than Rs 60 million for 2017 in a number of projects for this sector.”

Among the proposed projects are skills development for food and packaging industries, marketing promotion program for processed food industries, green value addition for existing food industries in Sri Lanka, and more importantly introduction of an accredited food laboratory by the Industrial Development Board (IDB) next year at a cost of Rs 35 million.

“We are looking to launch the IDB Lab in 2017 and the new lab can perform many well-known processed food tests such as Microbiology shelf life and salmonella. These tests are also important to obtain SLS certifications for processed foods going to the stores. The lab is expected to perform at least 500 processed food tests per month. What is more important is that the services of this lab are made available at very low costs. With IDB we are also currently conducting a pilot project to upgrade Sri Lankan SME Food Processors to enhance their food manufacturing technology and international standards and also to move them one step above form their current SME status. That is for example upgrading small enterprises to become medium size and medium enterprises to become large scales,” the Minister said.

A GIZ sponsored special attraction “Northern Kitchen” is added to this year’s Pro Food Pro Pack to showcase 30 Northern SME food producers to visiting global audience.

Source: ColomboPage. Date: Aug 12, 2016