March, 10, 2014
The largest cinnamon buyer in the world is Mexico. The largest cinnamon exporter in the world is Sri Lanka. Since time immemorial the Mexicans have craved to drink hot water flavoured with a piece of cinnamon bark. This has made the cinnamon drink popular in Mexico.
This article is about a Sri Lankan entrepreneur who for the first time has manufactured a tablet from cinnamon essence. In fact, while the manufacture of this cinnamon tablet is an innovation, it has also revolutionised the traditional way of drinking cinnamon.
The AdaderanaBiz team went to Kirulapone in search of this entrepreneur. By name, he is B. Saradha M. de Silva and this name is highly spoken about in Sri Lanka’s cinnamon industry. While he is the incumbent chairman of the Sri Lanka Spice Council, he is also the Managing Director of Intercom Exports Pvt Ltd.
He spoke to us about his latest innovation.
“There are around 15 grades in cinnamon. The grade called Alba is around US$ 20. The inferior cinnamon bark fetches only around half to two US$. We used modern technology to convert these pieces of bark to cinnamon tablets and introduce them to the Mexican market. This cinnamon tablet is produced after obtaining oil from these pieces of cinnamon bark and then separating its essence.
“Though it is an accepted practice to add cinnamon bark to food or drink preparations in Sri Lanka, those in other countries do not prefer this method. The reason is because the pieces remain in the food. This prompted us to manufacture a cinnamon tablet which does not leave any pieces or powder.
“This has enabled them to add value to the cinnamon that is generally sold at around two US dollars and also has made the country and his company gain more profits, said Saradha de Silva.
“Mexico buys around 6,000 metric tons of cinnamon from Sri Lanka annually and this is some 55 percent of the island’s produce. Out of this, some 40 percent is used by the Mexicans as pieces to be soaked in hot drinking water.
“They are the one we target through these cinnamon tablets. Adding two tablets into hot water, leaving it for a while and then drinking it has become very popular in Mexico now,” De Silva added.
Meanwhile, Saradha de Silva added that it took about one and a half years to improve the correct flavor for this product as required by the market the production capacity of the factory to supply the prevailing market demand is inadequate. Hence, he is preparing to triple the output of his factory to supply this demand.
Intercom Exports Pvt Ltd earns a profit of about USD 01 million annually through the export of cinnamon tablets.
While Sri Lanka has exported 14,435 metric tons of cinnamon in 2012, apart from the main market Mexico, a considerable amount of Sri Lanka’s cinnamon has been bought by South America as well.
Though Sri Lanka has been exporting cinnamon for centuries it is regrettable that value added export of this commodity is still minimal. Since Sri Lanka monopolises the global cinnamon market, the island has the capability of earning more profits through value added products.
Under such circumstances, by producing the world’s first innovative cinnamon tablet that Saradha de Silva has produced is an example to the entire country.