Marketing tour is part of long-term repositioning strategy
Representatives of Sri Lanka’s spice industry are touring the United States in March 2006, learning about the U.S. spice market and honing their negotiation skills as they seek to expand Sri Lanka’s presence in the U.S. market.
The Spice Council of Sri Lanka is sending some of its members to New York, New Jersey, and Baltimore to speak with U.S. spice brokers, agents, grinders and processors. They will then meet with cinnamon processors and distributors at Natural Products Expo West in California.
The tour is a milestone in several years of strategic repositioning by Sri Lanka’s spice growers, traders, distillers and extractors, exporters and brokers. With support from USAID’s Competitiveness Initiative (TCP), managed by Nathan Associates since 1999, members of the industry formed an industry cluster in 2001 and formalized the cluster as The Spice Council in late 2003. The cluster and then the council have radically changed the industry’s approach to quality and customer relations. In the past, Sri Lankan spice exporters positioned their products as commodities in a global free-for-all driven by cash flow and price speculation, an approach that neutralized the value of quality and prevented development of steady, reliable supply.
Through the council, the industry is grasping the benefits of cooperation and broad vision. Its goal is to enter niche markets and build a reputation for distinctive offerings, the “Ceylon Spices” brand. Industry members are joining forces, rather than simply competing with each other, to pursue this strategy. Nathan’s consultants helped the Spice Council determine that Sri Lanka’s spice industry is now ready to expand market scope—and boost exports of the country’s unique, high quality spices and spice derivatives.