AFP: Sri Lanka is the world’s leading cinnamon supplier thanks to its centuries-old industry, whose lush, green plantations are strung along the island’s southern coast where European colonists and Arab traders once flocked.
But the industry says its product known the world over as “Ceylon cinnamon” is being undermined by a cheaper rival called “cassia cinnamon” grown mostly in China, Southeast Asia and neighbouring India.
With cinnamon prices now soaring, the Sri Lankan industry fears wholesalers will increasingly turn to the cheaper product which is darker in colour and according to purists leaves a bitter aftertaste -- but still label it “Ceylon cinnamon” or simply cinnamon.
The Spice Council of Sri Lanka wants to protect the brand “Ceylon cinnamon” and has approached the World Trade Organization and the European Union about gaining copyright or a patent.
“In many Western countries, cassia is passed off as Ceylon cinnamon (in supermarkets and other shops),” council head Sarada de Silva told AFP. “The true cinnamon is Ceylon cinnamon.” The council wants the WTO to declare “Celyon cinnamon” a specific product based on a “geographical indication” along the same lines as Champagne which comes from the region with the same name in northern France. Under Portuguese, Dutch and finally British colonial rule from the 1500s, the Indian Ocean island was called Celyon and switched to Sri Lanka upon becoming a republic in 1972.