Sri Lanka has been the world’s leading supplier of true cinnamon (Ceylon Cinnamon) for years, since 1970s its share in world trade declined. Sri Lanka presently contributes about 80-90 percent of global market share.
However over the past four decades, international demand for cinnamon from Sri Lanka has gradually declined especially due to poor quality standards coupled with the fact that Ceylon cinnamon does not comply with product specifications and compliance to food safety and quality standards.
The Cinnamon Training Academy (CTA) was established in response to this challenge by The Spice Council (TSC) of Sri Lanka and Ceylon Cinnamon Association (CCA) to upgrade the cinnamon producing and manufacturing process. In an effort to revitalize Sri Lanka’s Ceylon cinnamon position on the global market, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Standards and Trade Development Facility of the World Trade Organization have been working together with the Spice Council (TSC), which represents private and public stakeholders in the cinnamon industry, to implement a project that helps to improve the trade competitiveness of the cinnamon value chain.
Within the framework of the project, a nationally-accredited vocational training framework was created for cinnamon field and factory operations. The project focuses on promoting internationally acceptable hygienic standards and internationally recognized food safety certification program. In order to promote best practices in food safety, a pilot Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certification was introduced for the first time in the cinnamon industry.
CTA pursues its vision on becoming a Center of Excellence by providing consulting services in the field of GMP, thus assisting cinnamon plantations and processing centers to obtain and maintain GMP certification for their centers. Furthermore, CTA also promotes and advocates the application of food safety and hygienic standards in cinnamon industry, which becomes a prerequisite of the Pure Ceylon Cinnamon (PCC) mark for cinnamon export. The relevance of this is that cinnamon exporting companies can mitigate risks related to the rejection of their produce in the target market. This was also one of the main objectives of the current UNIDO-WTO-TSC project.
Basic food safety standards such as Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) lay the foundation of food safety measures demanded by the international market. GMP covers the basic conditions and activities that need to be established in cinnamon processing, thus maintaining a hygienic environment suitable for the production, handling and provision of s safe end-product for human consumption.
As a direct result of the UNIDO-WTO-TSC project, six cinnamon processing centers have been upgraded and gained GMP certification. With the help of the project, infrastructure has been completely refurbished at these six centers where workers are now operating in compliance with food safety regulations and standards.
The project is also assisting Sri Lanka Export Development Boards with reviving its Pure Ceylon cinnamon brand and obtaining a Geographical Indication certificate for ‘Ceylon Cinnamon’ cultivated, produced and exported from the country, which will grant an exclusive identity for this spice and hopefully help the country regain its leading position in the global cinnamon trade.