Sri Lanka hooched up on fake toddy, bogus coconut arrack: DCSL
ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s is flooded with fake toddy and coconut arrack made with rotten potatoes and urea, while tappers who climb trees to get the genuine sap of the coconut flower is a dying breed, Sri Lanka’s largest alcohol maker has said.
While fermented coconut sap is sold as toddy for direct consumption, it is also the raw material for coconut arrack, which sells at a premium against standard or ‘Gal’ arrack made of sugar cane ethanol.
"It is saddening that, some of our competitors use artificial toddy to distill spirit thereby bringing various health hazards to innocent consumers," Harry Jayawardene, Chairman of Distilleries Corporation of Sri Lanka told shareholders in the annual report.
"The so called ‘Old Arrack’ in the market is made of artificial toddy and the consumer is unaware of the real situation."
The growth of the fake coconut market was helped by government regulations that prevented fake products from being exposed by education due to marketing restrictions.
Jayewardene claimed that DCSL coconut arrack was the only genuine product in the market.
"We are proud to say that DCSL PLC is the only company that produces 100% natural coconut arrack using 100% pure coconut toddy," he said.
"We have upgraded our laboratories and also strengthened procedures by appointing qualified personnel to inspect every barrel of toddy brought to our distillery, in order to detect any form of adulteration and extraneous matter it may contain.
"We are single handedly nurturing the traditional toddy tapping customs although only a handful of such
genuine tappers remain in the industry."
So-called ‘artificial toddy’ is made by ‘multiplying’ genuine toddy with additives, sources familiar with the techniques say.
Artificial toddy is made by adding sugar syrup, urea (ammonia) as a fermenting agent, and any kind of cheap starch to produce alcohol to a small amount of coconut toddy.
"All around us we see that the rest of the toddy market is transforming into an artificial one, where vast quantities of
sugar, ammonia, yeast, salt, rotten potatoes, sugar syrup and remnants of toddy sludge are being used in the manufacture of artificial toddy," Jayewardene said two years ago.
Industry sources say rotten potatoes are used because it can be obtained at virtually no cost.
"If you had to buy good potatoes it is too expensive," a source familiar with the practice said. "When some genuine toddy is added it smells like ordinary toddy."
A bottle of toddy for direct consumption is sold at about 60 rupees.
But there are big profits to be made in selling fake toddy. Fake toddy is made to give a bigger ‘kick’ than the genuine one due to high taxes on hard alcohol consumers buy the product even.
The biggest market for toddy is in the hill country where estate workers live. Due to high taxes on legal alcohol lower income person now have to consume kasippu (a distilled illegal spirit) or toddy.
A newspaper reported last month that a toddy license for Kadadorapitiya in Pundaluoya, Kotmale was auctioned for the 2019 year for 49.8 million rupees (hara koti anu ata lakshayak).