Sri Lanka Cargills to double biscuit production

Sri Lanka’s Cargills group has launched a range of biscuits under its existing ‘KIST’ brand after taking over and revamping a defunct factory and aims to double production.
Biscuits made by Cargills Quality Confectionaries, a fully-owned subsidiary of Cargills (Ceylon), are 100 percent vegetarian and certified as Halal so they can be eaten by all consumers, a company statement said.

Imtiaz Wahid, managing director of Cargills, said the firm had invested 350 million rupees to acquired and revamped a defunct factory owned by Diana Biscuits.

“We plan to double plant capacity from the current 10,000 tonnes and introduce new product categories with further investments of over 500 million rupees in the next six to nine months,” he told LBO at the launch.

The island’s total biscuit market was around 55,000 tonnes a year and worth around 25 billion rupees.

Cargills (Ceylon) runs Sri Lanka’s biggest supermarket chain under the ‘Food City’ brand, and is expanding aggressively, buying a brewer and having just got approval to set up a bank.

Ranjit Page, Cargills (Ceylon) deputy chairman, said he expects the food and beverage market to grow as economic growth accelerates after the end of the 30-year ethnic war in 2009.

“This will translate into higher per capita income which in turn will drive a rapid improvement in the lifestyle of Sri Lankans, particularly the youth,” he said.

“There are vast opportunities in the FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) business especially in food and beverages. Cargills plans to capitalise on this to ensure our vision of becoming the largest player in the food and beverage industry.”

Stuart Young, chairman of Cargills Quality Confectionaries, told a news conference he expect the size of the market to increase with rising consumer incomes and also that Cargills biscuits will take market share from rival brands.

The country is developing strongly with development in the north and east which had remained cut off because of the war which was fought largely in that region, he said.

The firm also plan to export biscuits once local demand has been met especially to neighbouring countries like India, making use of free trade agreements that allow duty free imports, Young said.