N.M. Manjula Narayana
Back in 1948, my father began this business with a small shop called ‘Indra Stores’ located in the midst of the coconut triangle in Sri Lanka. The business was based on integrity and honesty, thereby becoming very successful – attracting patrons, from different villages and towns, who placed their trust in the quality and reliability of our products. This was the humble beginning of the NMK group of companies.
The biggest responsibility I received from my father was this business, handed to me in 1978, and I took this upon myself with great pride. I was able to embrace our family’s values and incorporate them into our company’s policies as I enhanced the business and took it to the global market. When I accepted this responsibility in the late 70’s, I had a dream of creating a company that played a large role in helping the world become healthy and happy. My contribution to this dream is providing people with healthy superfoods. The first barrier I had to face and eradicate was the myth that coconut products – the best locally abundant superfood – were unhealthy. These inaccurate beliefs were dispelled during the 1991 Asia Pacific Coconut Community’s forum, at which I was allowed to speak as the secretary of the Oil Millers’ Association.
I began by creating an alternative line of vegetable oils and fats free of GMOs and trans-fats. Due to its quality, this line of products which was initially only supplied to industries and bakeries, soon went on to become a household brand not only in Sri Lanka but in many countries around the world. Very soon the demand for coconut products began to grow on a global scale, allowing us to open state of the art factories dedicated to producing a range of coconut products of the highest quality to be marketed internationally. In order to fulfill my dream, I ensured that my factories used the most advanced technology in order to obtain the highest quality, preserving as much of the nutrition as possible. I also made sure the company was at the forefront of environmentally friendly procedures at every level from office to production. Our research team, assembled by me, continuously innovate new coconut based products while developing the quality of the existing ones and increasing the efficacy of the manufacturing process. Currently many benefits of coconut oil and coconut based products are known, however it is just the tip of the ice berg. NMK works closely with four of Sri Lanka’s leading universities and institutes to carry out further research on the benefits of the coconut and coconut based products.
I am also proud to claim that we have the largest organic land bank in Sri Lanka. This is thanks to the organic and fair trade movement that I set up early on as I saw the trend across many parts of the world. We hope to continue to expand our land bank in various coconut growing nations and hopefully become the largest organic coconut land bank in the world over the next 20 years. I also strongly believe in giving back to the community, which is something that was always second nature to me. It is not something that I do as a promotional tactic. I sincerely believe it is one of my many responsibilities – it is my duty as a Sri Lankan to give back to the people of my motherland when I am able to. However, I now understand the importance of spreading the word so that the customer may understand the significance of their loyalty to our brand and the fact that all of this would not have been possible without them.
The past 35 years have been a great journey with our trusted brand and loyal customers over 41 countries around the world. Thanks to our dedicated staff that work seamlessly in this vertically integrated company, we are able to take products from the tree to the shelf in the best possible way bringing value to our customers and stakeholders. Here’s to a happy and healthy planet.