Sri Lanka-based export coconut product brands have been issued permits to import 78,000 metric tonnes of frozen kernel and the first shipment had arrived in the island from the Philippines, the state information office said. Several Sri Lankan companies have built global brands on coconut based products but domestic production is insufficient to meet the requirement amid a drought that has also driven up prices. Sri Lanka usually produces about three million nuts and about 60 to 70 percent is consumed in the raw form, leaving only about 30 to 40 percent for value added production.
Plantations Industries Minister Navin Dissanayake had obtained cabinet approval to import coconut kernels to feed the industries higher up the value chain. Sri Lanka produces coconut milk powder, liquid and also virgin coconut oil for export. The imports will help meet the expanding demand for Sri Lankan based export brands abroad and keep the factories running and preserving jobs, the statement said. Sri Lanka does not allow raw coconuts to be imported due to fears over pests. The kernel imports will also help keep down domestic prices of coconut, which have risen due to the drought. Coconut prices in case has to move up because the rupee collapsed from 131 to the US dollar to 152 between 2015 and 2016, due to excessive money printing by the central bank.