Launching a food business could perhaps draw parallels of sympathy and admiration. In 1996, the Weeraratnes, a young couple in their early 20s from Panadura was facing an uncertain future. With no history of entrepreneurship they entered the kitchen, giving birth to a small venture.
Today, 21 years later their product ‘Real Tasty’ has become a much loved household name for a range of mixture and cashew products in the market.
Looking back, Priyantha Weeraratne says, “I got the recipe for my mixture product from a well-known hotel and tried it out at home. We began on a very small scale with the help of a few of our family members. Everything was done manually and so time consuming, we only had a sealer.”
Despite the long road ahead, Weeraratne’s tenacity and resourcefulness grew over the years. “At the beginning we were able to make only few packets daily. I had a small vehicle and would personally distribute the products to a few stores, travelling as far as Hambantota.”
Driven by a deep seated desire to succeed, he never altered the authenticity of his product. To survive he pursued profit but paired it well with nutrition, delicious flavours, and a healthy respect for the environment.
“Through our venture we wanted to have a successful business, but also one that was good for the health of our consumers – a tasty product using all natural ingredients,” he reaffirms.
Using local producers for their flour and oil requirements, Weeraratne ensured no artificial flavours were added with the assurance of Real Tasty products being 100% natural.
Scaling up was a daunting prospect but one he knew he must conquer to succeed. “I walked into Cargills at Millers and asked if they were interested. They were, and even helped me through the process.”
In Cargills he believes he found the perfect partner, supportive of smaller businesses. “We began small and then supplied our products to Cargills outlets. From them we got a lot of energy. Their help strengthened our determination and we were able to provide our goods to their outlets islandwide,” says Priyanth.
The confident entrepreneur now looks towards an even more successful future having confidently passed the torch to his son. “My wife and I built this venture. Now my son now helps grow the business,” he says contentedly.
Over two decades Real Tasty has transformed its business distributing products to 300 outlets and today proudly joins rank as an established small and medium-sized enterprise. He says, “Our hard work has paid off. We realised our product had a lot of potential. We slowly expanded and was able to purchase a truck and even buy land to build a larger factory.”
Priyantha’s entrepreneurial journey is an inspirational example to others seeking success. He enthusiastically says, “With Cargills help we have been elevated to a SME and are now even able to supply our products to other supermarkets too and grow our business further.”