In a bid to overcome issues posed by a rising fast food lifestyle among its consumers, Sri Lanka directed its Research and Development officials in the food sector to focus more on Mod-Trad innovations.
“Increased use of Mod-Trad in the fast food sector can help to close the nutrition gap in our busy lifestyles. Food security and cost have become important in protecting the rights of Lankan consumers who consume around 7000 tons of food items per year. The Government is expanding the Cost of Living basket calculation to all nine provinces from this year,” said Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen said.
Minister Bathiudeen was addressing the World Consumer Rights Day Forum, organised by the Institute of Policy Studies in collaboration with the Consumer Affairs Authority and Kuala Lumpur-based Consumer International, which was held on 16 March in Colombo.
“A healthy diet is very much part of our food security which in turn is part of consumer rights. The Consumer Affairs Authority has been established as the Governments regulatory authority to protect consumers and promote healthy competition in the market. The Consumer Affairs Authority is envisioned to safeguard the rights of consumers,” Minister Bathiudeen said.
He further stated: “Managing food security as well as the cost of consumer goods have become important steps in protecting the rights of Lankan consumers who consume around 7000 tons of food items per year. This includes all food categories such as cereals, milk, meats, sugar, fruits, and vegetables. Thirty-five percent of this is cereals such as rice while 5% for fruits and 5% for sugar. Only 1% for eggs. This availability of food items alone is not food security which is more than the mere availability. In that high quality, healthy, affordable and freshness of foods, too are aspects of food security. All our national efforts in food crop management and food security are only as good as our success in overcoming these issues. The concept of a healthy diet too is becoming a part of overall food security. What is important to note in the healthy food trend is that it is the youth who are keen on it. This is encouraging. But we believe that this should not be limited to youth only. Even low income families need to have strong food security up to micro-security levels, similar to any high income family. As a result there is a lot more work to be done. This habit should be introduced from schools onwards. We all know of the importance of a healthy diet.
“However, there is no great impact in calling for healthy diets, if we cannot integrate it well to our lifestyle. A rapidly growing fast food culture is taking over the school population, as well as working population, as a result of our busy lifestyles. This creates problems in our efforts on healthy diets. We believe that a way to overcome this would be to increase the use of combined modern and traditional foods called Mod-Trad. Increased use of Mod-Trad in the fast food sector can help to close the nutrition gap in our busy lifestyles. The McDonalds Mac-Rice and the Samaposha product are two good examples of the Mod-Trad approach. “I am also pleased to note that even our processed food sector is expanding. In fact, when it comes to value addition, our food processing industry stands above even the countrys apparel sector. Processed food exports too have recovered from their 2013 decline with a 14% increase. In 2014 our exports of food feed beverages and tobacco totalled $ 317 million. It is here that increased research and development facilities for the food sector becomes important for us to be part of the global healthy foods market which is expected to be as high as $ 1000 billion by 2017. Today I call upon the universities, the food industry as well as other research and development players to focus more on the Mod-Trad trend in a significant way. Also our efforts over the healthy diet can become useless if food prices are high. Inflation and the Cost of Living are related challenges that the Government is trying to address.”
The 16 March Forum also featured speeches by Executive Director of IPS Dr. Saman Kelegama, Satya Narayana from Kuala Lumpurs Consumer International, and Former Sri Lanka Ambassador to Israel and UAE Sarath Wijesinghe as well as many other presentations by health professionals from the Health Ministry and WHO.