Mastering the culinary art for business success
Cookery is an inborn ability, especially for women. Many do not
pursue this capability to gain economic benefits. However, some master
the art of culinary and engage in successful business ventures. They
have set an example of how these skills can be best used.
Displaying her creativity in culinary art, M.H.T. Priyanka Pradeepa
Kumari has ventured into producing foods in the natural form. Her
business has reached the next level where she plans to expand to meet
the growing demand.
She was interviewed by Daily News Business.
Q. What business are you engaged in and how did you set about
Priyanka with her family. Pictures by Rukmal Gamage
A. I engage in natural food processing. I produce sauce, jam
and paste under the Priyanka brand name. This venture was set up in 2008
with 11 products and now I supply 14 products of which eight are
marketed under the Priyanka label. My speciality is green pepper sauce
which I make out of four pepper varieties of green, red, white and black
The product range includes tomato sauce, tamarind sauce, ginger and
garlic paste, amberella chutney, mango chutney, seeni sambol, chillie
paste, maldive fish sambol, katta sambol, kohila and keselmuwa sambol,
date and lime chutney, Sinhala pickle and tamarind jam.
I take part in many exhibitions including Medicare, Profood, Excon,
Inco, Shilpa, Kedella and Home and Me. I also took part in SME
exhibitions. These exhibitions provide me an opportunity to popularise
my products and develop customer relationships to promote business.
As I am engaged in the food industry I take extra effort to make them
people friendly. For this my products are made out of natural
ingredients and no artificial food preservatives, essence or colouring
is used. These products have two year self period. I always try to use
home grown ingredients and this has made my products popular among the
I carry out the entire operation by my self. The factory is located
at Athurugiriya. I have regular suppliers of ingredients and also a
network of shops to display my products.
They are available at Arpico supermarkets and Lakkam Moratuwa which
have good demand. I have exported these products to North America and
will receive the response shortly. I am currently looking at markets in
Australia, Cyprus, Japan, China, Italy and Ukraine.
Priyanka Pradeepa Kumari
I have plans to expand the business and employ ten workers to cater
to the expected demand increase.
The ability to do business is inherited from my parents. The idea to
produce food products mainly came after a TV program on cookery
demonstrations I saw. I gradually built the business to this level. I
try out new recipes and produce them at present. I will be receiving the
GMP certification shortly.
Q. How do you balance your family and business?
A. I manage time according to the tasks that I have to perform. My
husband Kelum Rukshan helps me a great deal to continue the business. My
little daughter Sathsarani, though small supports me in whatever way she
All this has contributed to the success of the venture.
Q. What were the challenges you faced?
A. Food industry is highly competitive. However, natural foods
have a good demand and this business was able to sustain and grow due to
this. Sometimes I find it difficult to purchase ingredients on time.
With whatever challenge I work with determination and courage to further
improve the business.
Q. What are your goals?
A. I have a goal to expand the business and to make my
products available countrywide. I like to see my daughter well-educated
and becoming a responsible citizen. I do everything possible to make her
Q. Being a woman was it an advantage to be in business?
A. Yes. It was never a drawback in this business. However what
is most important is to face the challenges and move forward. I have
confidence in me and this enables me to produce quality products. What I
feel is that the gender does not matter but the way one faces the
Q. What is your advice to women in business?
A. My advice to women in business is not to waste time. We can
manage time and work accordingly to take maximum advantage of the
resources we have. Women need to bring up their children well. It is
always important to engage in a venture that is useful and economically
Q. What were your achievements in family and business?
A. My life is centred around my family. We are a close knit
family and I always look forward to their well-being.
In business, I have won numerous awards at exhibitions and award
ceremonies. I won the first place at Shilpa 2009 in Colombo and also in
Western Province. This feat was repeated in Shilpa 2010 exhibition. I
won both awards at this event too.
I won the second place in macro level entrepreneur of the year award
from Women’s Chamber of Commerce and industries. My stall was selected
as the best stall in the exhibition conducted by the Industrial
Development Board (IDB). I have won quality certificates from Profood
Propack 2009 and Inco 2010.
I have shared my knowledge in numerous television programs on green
pepper sauce production. This has created awareness about the product
and generated a good response from viewers.
Many people have helped me to improve the business. Among them are
Dhammika, Sirimavi and Liyanagunawardena from the IDB Peliyagoda branch,
J.H.P.J. Kumari from Kaduwela Vidatha Centre, officials at the
Agriculture Export Board and Jayasumana from Ministry of Science and
Technology. I also like to thank all the customers who patronized my
Q. What is your contribution to society?
A. I produce natural export quality foods. This is with a view
to produce a healthy nation. We need to promote natural food as our
eating habits have changed due to busy life styles.
The feedback I receive is encouraging and I strive hard to produce
quality products for my customers. We consume food for our survival and
natural food is said to be the best that gives more nutrition. Priyanka
products could supplement our additional food requirement and it is
hundred percent natural.