By Zahara Zuhair
Foundation stone laying ceremony of the Nestlé Lanka’s newest state-of- the-art factory in Pannala took place yesterday with the participation of President Maithripala Sirisena and many other distinguished invitees.
The Rs.5 billion project, an expansion to the existing facility in Pannala, is so far the biggest investment in the country by Nestlé Lanka and, is expected to be completed by 2018.
Through the investment, the company plans to expand its production capacity of its dairy and coconut-based products.
Nestlé Lanka Managing Director Shivani Hedge said that they have been continuously investing in Sri Lanka, and this latest investment will help them to enhance capacity, and contribute towards country’s economic development.
“This will be Nestlé’s largest investment in this country. Nestle, has a turnover of 90 million Swiss francs and operates in 190 countries around the world with 500 factories for last 150 years,” she said adding that they started manufacturing in Sri Lanka in 1984.
She said their intention is to enhance the quality of lives of people in Sri Lanka.
Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said with about 45 percent of fresh milk produced locally, the government’s aim is to increase it up to 65 percent in one and half years.
He also invited Nestlé Lanka, to make use of the restoration of GSP Plus to Sri Lanka.
In parallel to foundation laying ceremony, a farmer felicitation event also took place with the participation of 100 Nestlé farmers.
Nestlé has been operating in Sri Lanka for over 110 years, being a local multinational that manufactures products locally, largely using local ingredients.
As Sri Lanka’s largest private sector collector of fresh milk, collecting one third of the total commercially available fresh milk, and one of the world’s largest exporters of coconut milk powder, Nestlé supports the livelihood of over 25,000 local farmers and their families.
It was noted that its average annual payment to local farmers for procuring these raw materials was around Rs.6 billion alone.