Chief Executive Officer of Ceylon Biscuits, Imal Fonseka speaking at the LBR LBO CEO forum said Sri Lankan companies need to figure out ways to reach out to the Asian consumer.
“We are not multinationals; unlike multinationals we can’t say we want to be market leaders in this category for 130 countries,” Fonseka said.
“We need to clearly figure out which countries we are going to invest in brands and which countries are we going to supply business to business and which countries we going to partner simply from a supply chain perspective.”
In China, Ceylon Biscuits is currently purely integrating with brand owners in China following huge regulatory problems the company had to face, he said.
“However these regulatory problems suddenly seems to disappear with the same product when tested under a different brand name. So we have now decided to go to China through a third brand,” Fonseka said.
“There we provide the technical and manufacturing expertise; our partner has the branding expertise, reach and the investment power in China. So it is a partnership.”
Fonseka also talked about a Sri Lankan company which exported strawberries to India.
“Strawberries have a shelf life of seven days. They started doing exceptionally well in India and suddenly a ruling was brought that Strawberries need to be tested at the port and the testing takes five days..,”
“These are the things you need to navigate when you enter markets like this. In Asia; you have to be ready to face hic ups like this. But you’ll succeed at the end provided that you keep a clear focus and charter the course.” Fonseka further stated.