Sri Lanka ceramic export potential seen in niche products
ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lankan ceramic manufacturers should consider focusing on making personalised products now increasingly being demanded by overseas buyers, a European Union trade official said.
“European consumers are moving more towards personalised products which Sri Lanka can provide,” said Roshan Lyman, deputy head of politics and trade , delegation of the European Union to Sri Lanka. “China can’t do that.”
Personalised products were a small but growing niche market, he told the Sri Lanka Ceramic & Glass Symposium 2018, organized by the Sri Lanka Ceramic & Glass Council, an affiliated trade body of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.
European demand for dinnerware fell in 2013 and as a result many European firms in the manufacturing business closed down which created an opportunity for Sri Lankan firms to fill the gap.
By 2015 the market recovery had started and Europe now imports 50 percent from outside the EU, Lyman said.
“The European market needs a lot of storytelling. They need to have a history behind the product. Sri Lankan has an opportunity to go that way because in the mass market China is the leader, so it is difficult to compete with them.”
The EU imported 1.8 billion euro worth of dinnerware in 2016, half from developing countries with Germany’s imports at 350 million euro and the UK’s at 265 million euro.
China has 41% of the EU market for dinnerware.
Lyman said an area where Sri Lankan exporters can look at is personalised design, such as family logos or shields buyers want on their dinnerware.
“European buyers just does not look only at price but how the product is made, the sustainability part, environmental and social sustainability norms,” Lyman said.