Samagi Spice Exports (Pvt) Ltd owns and operates ten collection centres for Pure Ceylon Cinnamon. Fresh cinnamon barks are collected daily in these seven centres and transported to the processing facilities. The unloaded cinnamon barks are firstly taken through the initial sorting process, to separate the wet barks from the already dry barks. Cinnamon can only be processed if 100% dry and therefore ensuring each bark is fit for packing is the first essential step of the manufacturing process.
The dry barks peeled to remove knots and then scraped to a smooth texture by experts, taking care to preserve the original quality. Cinnamon quills are manufactured by rolling the barks into a cigar-shaped quill. This is a manual process that has been mastered through centuries and is nothing short of amazing. It requires an immaculate technique and handicraft skills.
The assorted quills are then taken directly to one of the seven Sulphur Rooms. The Sulphur Rooms are where the dry cinnamon quills are processed using Sulphur Dioxide (SO2); an agent that helps in the fumigation process of cinnamon. SO2 use in the cinnamon industry is a centuries-old practice and is still widely in use in the manufacturing processes. The SO2 fumigation process locks in the hygienic quality of the cinnamon. It is an agent that prevents excessive browning of the quill and helps to maintain the significant pale, golden-brown hue of Pure Ceylon Cinnamon. SO2 also acts as a preservative during the fumigation process.
The European Union has accepted the use of Sulphur Dioxide which was approved in 2011 after the requests made to the World Trade Organisation in Geneva. It has approved maximum level of use of 150 mg/kg for sulphites (including Sulphur Dioxide) in Food Category 12.2.1 “Herbs and Spices.”
While the dry barks go straight to the Sulphur Rooms, the wet bark remains to be dried. With the adoption of new technology a crucial tool used in this process is the Moisture Meters which can detect the level of moisture in the quills. Depending on the levels of moisture retained in the barks, the storing and drying time will range from 2-6 days.
The bark fumigating in the Sulphur rooms are sorted daily by experts of the cinnamon grading profession. Each quill is inspected and then sorted into different grades, The H2 grade (comprises of the sorted thicker barks rolled into quills and has a good demand due to its quality) and C4 grade (this grade has a higher demand because it has a smooth texture, exquisite aroma and it is the best quality, pale golden brown tinge with a sweet taste). All the quills are graded according to the requirements of different local and international buyers.
The packaging process of the cinnamon quills is divided into two separate sections; the baking section and the cutting section. In the cutting section is where the cinnamon quills are cut into different lengths ready for packaging. The majority of these are smaller quantity packaging both for local and international buyers. Six cutting machines cut the cinnamon quills into different lengths; 21 inches, 5 inches, 3 inches and 18 cm, 13 cm, 8 cm and 5 cm. These are then sent for cellophane wrapping in different quantities again as specifically requested by the buyers. The 21 inch is export quality and packed in export boxes.
The baling section of the manufacturing process sorts the long quills into different grades and bundles or rolls then into bales. Bringing these bales to exporting standards takes more effort than this. The packaging consists of three steps; first wrapped in polythene, then in jute gunny bags. They are finally sewn with caps on either side of the bale.