The Global Trend Towards Healthy Diets Can Bring Healthy Profits for Sri Lankan Producers

As the world marks this year’s Consumer Rights Day today on the theme of ‘Healthy Diets’, the global consumer trends around health and natural foods offer lucrative new markets.

The increase in awareness on healthy diets and demand for health and wellness food products globally opens a great opportunity for producers from Sri Lanka. With a heritage of  natural and ayurveda products, we should be well placed to cater to this growing consumer segment. A segment that values authenticity and ‘all-natural’.

 

The global healthy foods market is set to hit $ 1 trillion by 2017. This presents a huge new market opportunity for early movers. According to the ‘Global Health and Wellness Survey’ by market research firm Nielsen, 50% of consumers around the world say they are actively trying to lose weight, and 75% of them said they plan to achieve that goal by changing their diet. Much of the recent growth (2012-2014) in the healthy food category is coming from developing countries; in the Middle East (20% growth), Latin America (16%) and Asia Pacific (15%). Sri Lanka must tap into these markets, and maybe new FTAs with ASEAN in Asia and Brazil in LatAm can help boost this market access.

 

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Over the last two years, Nielsen found that foods that are ‘all natural’ (43%), made from fruits/vegetables (40%) and ‘organic’ (33%) were among the most favored preferences among global consumers. Sales of products classified as  “natural” and “organic” grew 24% and 28%, respectively, during this period. The same goes for the rising demand for pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals that use more natural ingredients and reduce (or eliminate) the use of chemical compounds.

 

Already, new producers are emerging among the SMEs sector, catering to this trend, locally. A great example is The Good Market, operating twice a week in two locations in the city, and now with a outlet store as well. In just 2 years it has become the launching pad for many of Sri Lanka’s small entrepreneurs who embody the natural foods ethos and a marketplace for them to reach out to conscious consumers . Many of the small producers (SMEs) that started off as market stalls have now gone grown up.  Saaraketha, the leading organic foods retailer, recently opened its first physical store. These are examples of new enterprise opportunities for SMEs emerging from the new awareness around healthy diets, and is certainly an area to push even in the global market. Time for institutions like the EDB to embrace these new trends, and help product categories breach international markets, beyond our traditional ones that are struggling to maintain market share and margins.
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