Bio Foods announces new investor and brand ambassador for 25th anniversary
Bio Foods (Pvt) Ltd recently celebrated 25 years of agricultural trade specialized in organic cultivation by unveiling Germany’s first socio-ecological bank GLS Bank Germany as an investor, and ODEL founder Otara Gunawardana as its brand ambassador.
“We have an investor from Germany who has invested in our company, because the company is a sustainable and environmentally friendly organization,” Bio Foods, CEO Lilanthi Herath said, addressing a press conference held to mark the occasion.
She added that this capital infusion has given the company a new lease of life after 25 years and said it hopes to expand and run the business in a more organized manner. Under the partnership with GLS Bank Germany, portions of the company’s yearly dividends will be channeled towards improving farmers’ livelihoods and their children’s education.
Looking back on the company’s 25 year journey, Bio Foods (Pvt) Ltd Founder and Chairman Dr. Ananda Sarath Ranaweera said that he was inspired to grow organic food in 1993 following years of experience in consuming unhealthy, chemically grown food.
He said that it was a challenge to convince small farmers about the organic concept.
“When we wanted to start this organic concept in 1993, the word ‘organic’ was not well known. We decided to use the word ‘bio’ because it more well known,” he said.
Another challenge was the lack of a price guarantee at the time, which had made the farmers weary about this new concept as well. As a solution Bio Foods set a minimum farm rate price and a cost covering price in consultation with farmers.
“Our fathers faced serious problems due to the lack of an income assurance. Therefore, we decided that whatever happens in the world we would maintain the price. Over the past 25 years we have maintained the minimum price at 10% of the profit margin,” Ranaweera said.
They agreed that if the price goes up they pay the premium price out of that price. Currently there are 10,000 farming families and 30,000 people who survive on this income.
Bio Foods, Chief Marketing Officer Madusha Ranaweera said that part of what the company is trying to do, especially by partnering with Otara Gunawardana, is to spread awareness that buyers have to be careful about what they purchase, as not everything is as organic as it claims to be. He added that over the next few years the company will educate people on what real organic certification is and how to identify it.
He went on to say that with the celebration of 25 years the company has launched new products which include teas, spices, herbs, fruits, vegetables, coconut products and whole grains.
“Sri Lanka sends the best stuff out of the country and keeps inferior quality products. We want all people to have access to the same quality,” he said.
Bio Foods, brand ambassador Otara Gunawardana said that everybody must be made aware that chemically grown food is unhealthy, and since Sri Lanka has a farming tradition, everybody should look for “food without poison”.
“I’m happy to be the Bio Foods brand ambassador, and I support everything they stand for,” Otara said.
Otara said she also supports ‘cruelty free food’, which is food produced without harming animals, and a programme called ‘cruelty free cooking’ which exclusively uses Sri Lankan vegetables and fruits.
Bio Foods is a significant player in the organic post-harvested food industry in Sri Lanka, exporting its products in bulk form or in consumer packaging to Europe, North America, Japan, Australia and many other developed countries.