Sri Lanka seen as ‘vital source’ for Qatar’s food security needs, says business leader
Posted on February 25th, 2022

Peter Alagos Courtesy Gulf News

Sri Lanka is playing a significant role in the food security needs of Qatar amidst steady growth in its local and expatriate population and the imminent influx of millions of tourists for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, according to a top business leader.
Qatar’s population is growing and as we come close to hosting the World Cup by the end of this year, LuLu is diversifying the State’s sources of food different nationalities, so from a food security perspective, Sri Lanka is a reliable partner, Dr Mohamed Althaf, director, LuLu Group International, told Gulf Times.
Through LuLu’s sourcing facility in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo, Althaf said Sri Lanka is able to export fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as other food products to Qatar.
This is an ideal strategy because Sri Lanka has the same food basket as that of other Southeast Asian countries. Whenever we have supply issues with other countries, Sri Lanka can be a very good support source,” Althaf explained.
This was also echoed by Sri Lankan ambassador Mohamed Mafaz Mohideen, who stressed that LuLu’s direct dealings with local suppliers are not only generating employment and business for Sri Lankan farmers, food producers, and SMEs, but giving them access to the Qatari market, thus improving both countries’ bilateral trade exchange.
Qatar-Sri Lanka bilateral trade stood at $90mn” in 2021, according to Mohideen, who noted that he expects business relations with Sri Lankan manufacturers and traders to expand across many different sectors.
The ambassador emphasised that in terms of food security, the export of Sri Lanka’s vast agricultural products will help stabilise the country’s food market.” He stressed that LuLu and Sri Lanka’s partnership helped guarantee the steady and uninterrupted supply of goods to Qatar from Sri Lankan producers.
Althaf said LuLu has started its private label in its sourcing facility in Colombo, as well as contract manufacturing. He said not only is the hypermarket chain able to provide the needs of the Sri Lankan community here, but LuLu also caters to expatriates and citizens’ food and non-food requirements.
We are also looking at some lines that people don’t traditionally associate with Sri Lanka, such as large organic varieties of coconuts and organic vegetables and similar items. Through our textile section, LuLu now offers a variety of quality saris and other women’s garments from Sri Lanka.
We are also handling skin care products based on organic vegetable oils and other products. The customer response was very good. At least 80% of these products are not aimed only at Sri Lankans; they are meant for the general customer. Once travel abroad picks up and the flight frequencies increase, we hope to have more products from Sri Lanka coming in,” said Althaf.
He added: We are busy exporting a wide range of products. Our facility in Colombo is doing a lot of local level coordination there, as well as quality control operational procedures like what we have done in our facilities in other countries.
Our target is to expand our sourcing base, so we can make sure that good quality products are available consistently and without any disruptions. Sri Lanka is now adding more items to our customer base in Qatar, such as textiles, handicrafts, and organic skincare items.”

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