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Sunday December 3rd, 2023

Charting a Billion-Dollar Future: EXPO Commodities’ Global Vision

From humble beginnings in 2011 as a Sri Lankan spice exporter to becoming a global leader in spices, coconut products, and dry fruits, Expo Commodities Global’s trajectory has been nothing short of inspiring. In an interview with Fazil Fowzi, Chief Executive of Expo Commodities Global, we explore the values, sustainability initiatives, and ambitious plans that have propelled the company to its current status and are setting the course for its vision of a billion-dollar future.

Company’s evolution and key milestones in its journey
Expo Commodities Global is a specialized supply chain company in the agricultural products sector. We proudly stand as one of Sri Lanka’s pioneering global exporters of spices, coconut-based products, and dried fruits. Our operational footprint extends across seven distinct countries, including Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Vietnam,
Madagascar, Comoros and Egypt, where we maintain direct relationships with local farmers. We have strategically positioned a trading office in Dubai, UAE, to facilitate our international trading endeavours.

We began as humble exporters of Sri Lankan spices, akin to many others in the region. However, we aspired to transcend the ordinary and attain global recognition. This aspiration led us to a pivotal decision in 2011 when we established operations in Madagascar, reshaping our perspective on the spices industry.

Recognizing the potential for growth and impact, we set out to establish a presence in major spice-producing nations. By 2011, we had footholds in both Madagascar and Sri Lanka. Seeking global recognition, we ventured into the Dubai trading office in 2014, solidifying our status as a global player in the industry. We further expanded our operations into Vietnam in 2016, catalysing a transformation of our identity within the global spice sector. The same year, we extended our reach to Comoros, another significant spice-producing region.

Subsequently, in 2018, we ventured into Indonesia, a decisive move considering its status as the largest spices producer worldwide. Our expansion beyond geographical borders was not arbitrary but rooted in strategic decision-making to enhance our supply chain control and provide superior solutions to our valued customers. This journey has positioned our Sri Lankan-based company as a global leader in the spices and agricultural products industry, a feat we are immensely proud of.
A cornerstone of our success has been our dedicated and ownership-driven team. Their unwavering commitment has propelled us to become one of the top five-ranking exporters globally.

How does the company’s fundamental purpose guide decisions?
Our company’s foundation is firmly anchored in core values, each carefully crafted with active input from our entire team. These values drive our actions and decisions daily, reflecting our commitment to excellence. Our first core value, “One Team, One Dream,” underscores the power of unity within our organization. We understand that our dreams remain out of reach without a cohesive team, making teamwork integral to our success.

Secondly, ‘No Shortcuts, No False Promises’ highlights our unwavering commitment to integrity and transparency in the ever-fluctuating agricultural products industry. We honour our commitments to customers without compromise, earning us the trust and preference of buyers

Thirdly, we hold ourselves accountable to the principle of “Love Today, Sustain Tomorrow.” As stewards of the environment, we acknowledge our responsibility to make choices today that contribute to a better, more sustainable tomorrow. Our actions reflect our commitment to sustainable practices and environmentally conscious decisions.

Our fourth core value, “Treat as You Wish to Be Treated,” extends to all stakeholders, including employees, suppliers, and customers. We believe in treating others with the same respect and fairness that we expect.

Lastly, we recognize that “Good” is just a starting point. Continuous improvement is at the core of our ethos. We understand that what defines top quality today may evolve in the future. Thus, we are dedicated to enhancing our products and services to exceed our customers’ ever-evolving expectations.

These five core values collectively serve as our guiding principles, influencing every decision we make and reflecting our unwavering commitment to excellence
and integrity.

How central are sustainability strategies to your operations?
Regarding sustainability, our industry is uniquely connected to the environment, demanding a heightened sense of responsibility. This commitment to sustainability is integral to every decision we make at Expo Commodities Global. Working in collaboration with over 10,000 farmers globally, we actively guide and support them in adopting organic practices and transitioning from conventional to organic farming. We also take responsibility for the welfare and education of these farmers and their families.

Furthermore, we are steadfast in reducing our carbon footprint across our operations. This involves improving supply chain efficiency, promoting renewable energy use within our facilities, and advocating for biodegradable packaging, with approximately 70% of our exports now using eco-friendly packaging materials. In Madagascar, we’ve undertaken a reforestation project, planting eight cinnamon trees for every metric ton of cinnamon we export, exemplifying our dedication to sustainability

How has the company evolved to thrive amid challenges?
Regarding market challenges, our proactive response has been threefold. Firstly, our strategic diversification across seven countries enables us to manage crop issues in one region by sourcing from others.

Secondly, diversifying our product range beyond spices to include coconut products and dry fruits ensures that challenges in one category do not adversely affect our overall performance. Finally, our presence at the farm gate level in key regions, where our team members possess firsthand knowledge, facilitates quick decision-making and effective problem-solving.

The experience of our team, coupled with continuous skill development and a low attrition rate, is equipping us to navigate challenges successfully. While recognizing the long road ahead, we remain committed to advancing our sustainability practices and strengthening our ability to address market fluctuations effectively.

What’s the strategic roadmap for the company’s future?
At Expo Commodities Global, we aspire to emerge as a leading processor and exporter of spices, dry fruits, and coconut products on a global scale. Our vision is to become the foremost player in the global market.

We’ve set short-term goals to achieve this, including doubling our volumes within the next three years. To realize this vision, we are actively pursuing two main strategies.

Firstly, we are focusing on geographical expansion by exploring opportunities in different regions. This expansion will help us broaden our reach and product offerings.

Secondly, we are committed to delving deeper into enriching our product offerings, aiming to diversify our product portfolio. This dedication drives us to explore innovative avenues, ensuring that our customers receive not only exceptional products but also an enhanced overall experience, thereby bolstering our revenue streams. We are also actively pursuing global acquisitions to further strengthen our growth potential.

To facilitate the above strategies, we are investing in vertical expansion within Sri Lanka, where we have established a factory for value-added spices products. This new factory focuses on expanding our spice offerings, providing a range of products from powdered spices and ready-to-shelf packs to essential oils, all of which are designed to meet the evolving demands of our customers.

Our long-term objective is to see Expo Commodities Global evolve into a billion-dollar company.