Business
LCBL’s organises first seminar
Tea trade gears for HACCP challenges

Over 110 tea factory owners participated in the HACCP Awareness and Quality Evaluation Seminar for Tea Factories in the Southern Province, Arranged by Lanka Commodity Brokers Ltd in association with the Tea Association of Sri Lanka, People’s Leasing Co. Ltd and Amana Takaful Ltd (Insurance).

Representatives of management companies, government and semi government representatives and eminent tea trade personalities also attended the seminar, which was important in educating the tea industry personnel about the quality standards.

Mr. Sarath Sirisena, the CEO of Lanka Commodity Brokers Ltd outlined the legislation with regard to food hygiene which will come in to force in the European Union Member Countries as from the 1st of January, 2006, which is expected to impact on Lanka tea exports. It was pointed out that all these countries would be insisting on buying tea only from HACCP certified tea factories, and it was therefore most important that our Factory Owners are made aware of this, so that they could take appropriate action to ensure that their Teas continue to get the valuable support of the EU buyers.

The HACCP Presentation was made on behalf of the Tea Association of Sri Lanka by Dr. Dhayan Kirtisinghe, who emphasized the need to follow the basic requirements of factory hygiene which was a pre-requisite towards HACCP Certification. He mentioned of simple things such as having some kind of net or mesh to prevent Birds from entering the withering area, so as to eliminate the risk of Bird Droppings. It was also mentioned that the Tea Rolling Room should be thoroughly washed after the days work with clean water that is suitable for consumption, and that the water should drain out so that the surface would be dry the following morning. The area where the water drains out should be also adequately meshed in order to prevent insects and rats entering the premises. Additionally, Dr. Kirtisinghe emphasized the need to maintain the moisture level of the made teas within accepted trade norms.

Amongst a host of points made included maintaining proper and accurate factory records, which can be of much help in tracing back any matter that needs to be looked in to. Dr. Kirtisinghe cautioned the Producers that Sri Lanka’s COP which was higher than other Producer Countries on account of 65% constituting Labour Wages, was very high when compared to other Producer Countries.

The COP in Kenya was SL Rs. 80/- per Kg, whilst that of India was between Rs. 70/- to 80/-, and Vietnam just SL Rs. 60/-. In this backdrop Sri Lanka cannot afford to lose any of its market share, and it would be in every Producers interest to gear their factories to these new requirements.

The HACCP awareness talk was followed by Mr. Joseph Sinniah, Director of Akbar Brothers Ltd, the single largest buyer of tea at the Colombo Auctions, educating the gathering on the current market trends and the international buyers’ quality requirements. He spoke of the many areas factory owners needs to address in order to stay alive in a continuously changing business environment, where competitiveness is the key.

It was pointed out that factories should recognize the importance of having a consistent range of grades, since there has been an alarming increase of Tea Invoices where the leaf style has been found to vary from bag to bag, indicating irregular bulking of Teas prior to packing, in the factories. This situation has led to many claims being made by the buyers and some of the Main Buyers of Tea have even had to equip their Colombo Blending Warehouses with Sifters, and the cost of operating these additional machines including labour would undoubtedly come off the ultimate sale price of the Tea. It was therefore explained to the Producers that they must endeavor to make their teas to be even in particle size.

Chairman of the Beralapanathara Co-operative Society , Mr. Maddumage also mentioned that it would not be unreasonable to expect some financial assistance from the State towards our Tea Factories achieving HACCP Certification, as the Southern Region produced 60% of the National Crop and accounted for the bulk of Sri Lanka’s Agricultural Export Income.

 

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