In a new turn for Sri Lanka’s processed food sector, the first-ever specialised Lankan scientific laboratory to test food products is to be unveiled this year. The new lab is expected to perform more than 500 food tests a month, as announced in Colombo recently and more than 40 percent of Lankan MSMEs are involved in the food sector. “Today I am pleased to say that Sri Lanka’s first laboratory for processed food testing is now being prepared by the Industrial Development Board (IDB) under my ministry. We are looking to schedule the launch of the new lab this year and it can perform many well-known processed food tests,” said Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen.
Minister Bathiudeen was addressing the launch event of ‘Pro Food-Pro Pack-Ag Biz’ exhibition that was held at the BMICH recently. One of the largest food, beverages, packaging and agri-business fairs in South Asia, this year’s event was packed with prospective agents and manufacturers from Sri Lanka and abroad along with Sri Lanka’s leading food, packaging and agri machinery suppliers, including MSMEs in attendance.
“Since the launch of this series in 2001, there has been much progress in the processed food sector by way of improvements in technology packaging product development and marketing. It is also good to note that the local and overseas participation have been significantly improving and growing. I am pleased to say that my ministry has been actively promoting the food and packaging sector. One reason is that there is a great number of micro and SME enterprises (MSMEs) active in this industry.
In fact, we believe that more than 40 percent of our MSMEs are in the food processing sector. This sector is therefore highly significant in our planning. In fact, from 2009, my ministry has been actively involved in financing the regional MSMEs in this exhibition for their own pavilion. We understand that innovation, research and development are vital in the development of this sector.
It is also important to introduce the latest global food trends such as Nutraceuticals to our sector - this is a major food trend. This series is only one of the initiatives by my ministry to help the processed food and packaging sector. There are several other major initiatives to develop the food and packaging sector by us as well,” said Bathiudeen.
He added, “Today I am pleased to say that Sri Lanka’s first laboratory for processed food testing is now being prepared by the Industrial Development Board (IDB) under my ministry. We are looking to schedule the launch of the lab this year 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. This 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. Another initiative is the assistance scheme called Food Quality Certification Programme. This was established to support food and packaging industry firms to receive such international certifications as ISO 22000 HACCP and GMP. 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.”