Cashews are considered a luxury side dish that compliments with any meal that you have. Having identified the void in the local and international market, young Ruwan Wathugala was determined to try out his entrepreneurial skills while being a student at the Medical College. 20 years later, Dr. Wathugala, Founder and Chairman of Royal Cashews has transformed his venture into one of the leading cashew processing and exporting companies in Sri Lanka.
“What is unique about Royal Cashews is the fact that it is a venture that has secured the ISO 14001:2015 EMS standard certification on international green-oriented processing, ISO 22000:2018 FSMS, HACCP & GMP standard certifications on standardized food processing; and Certificate of Conformity on principles of Ethical Trading Practices,” Dr. Wathugala said. “From the moment we obtain raw cashew nuts from the farmer, the entire processing happens at our factory and we focus on the value addition aspect. So far we have introduced 19 flavours that come in 682 varieties of packaging and supply it to the local as well as international markets. Apart from 20 sales outlets, we supply products to leading supermarkets, hotels, restaurants, cinemas and even the confectionary market. Our main international buyers include Australia, New Zealand, Maldives, Singapore, Malaysia and Japan and have been adjudged with numerous awards for our exporting capabilities.”
Recently, Royal Cashews received four awards at the 24th Annual Award Ceremony organised by the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka (FCCISL) for maintaining standards as an entrepreneurial venture. These include Sri Lankan Entrepreneur of the year 2019 – National Gold Award – (Extra Large Category), Sri Lankan Entrepreneur of the year 2019 – Provincial Gold Award – (Extra Large Category – Western Province), Most Innovative Entrepreneur of the year 2019 – National Winner – Western Province and Most Innovative Entrepreneur of the year 2019 -Winner – Western Province – (Large Category – Western Province).
“Today this venture directly supports over 200 employees while indirectly supporting around 250 families. I’m extremely humbled to have received these awards and they are further proof of the example we have set. It also gives a strong message for future entrepreneurs as well,” he added.
When asked if they faced any challenges with the pandemic Dr. Wathugala said that rather than taking it as a challenge and taking a step back, the management decided to continue operations while following all safety precautions. “As a result zero COVID cases were reported from our factory since all our employees were made aware of how they should handle the processing amidst the pandemic. Even amidst the pandemic we were still able to supply to the international market as well.”
In future, Dr. Wathugala aspires to introduce more variants inspired by cashew nuts with the sole intention of giving a novel experience for cashew lovers. “We are in the process of developing a cashew-based ice cream and various food items from cashew nut powder for example. It is also our duty to look after the cashew farmers and we are looking at educating them with novel farming techniques. Improving the brand value is of utmost importance and we want to highlight it by supplying quality products,” he said in his concluding remarks.