Simon (Arthur) Wickramasingha (1902-1984), a planter, took over a small biscuit factory in the 1930's from a local businessman named Williams. This handmade biscuit operation had begun at a time when all biscuits in the local market were imported. Establishing the business as Williams Confectionery Limited (a.k.a Williams) in 1939 with 10 employees,
Williams was mechanized in 1957 and grew slowly in size with Wickramasingha’s four sons all gradually becoming involved in the business.
Williams introduces a range of wafers to the market under the brand name ‘Munchee.’
Mineka Wickramasingha develops and proposes a unique recipe for a high protein nutritional biscuit that meets the requirements of CARE U.S.A and the Sri Lankan Government, who are on the lookout for ways to supplement nutrition for school children.
Ceylon Biscuits Limited is established in Pannipitiya to manufacture the Care biscuit and the Munchee brand. CBL begins production on July 28th 1968; shifting from the one ton Williams' plant to an eight ton plant with a 27 ton a day operation within six weeks of starting the business.
CBL introduces a range of biscuits to the market under the brand name ‘Munchee’ including its own innovations: Hawaiian Cookies – a dense, crumbly, coconutty soft dough biscuit and Milk Short Cake – a creamy crunchy milk biscuit.
The CARE biscuit plays a key role in supplementing nutrition needs for over 1.3 million Sri Lankan schoolchildren in a successful 20 year campaign. CBL gifts the recipe to CARE U.S.A to be implemented as a means of combatting malnutrition in other developing countries.
CBL begins its export journey and completes its first export consignment to Saudi Arabia.
CARE U.S.A looks to find ways to supplement nutrition for pregnant and lactating mothers in low income communities. CBL develops “Thriposha” an innovative cereal based high nutrition product, using intermediate technology, in partnership with CARE U.S.A and the Sri Lankan Government in a nationwide initiative to combat malnutrition.
Imported biscuits flood the market and CBL enters the open economy, geared to compete, with a staff of about 300 and a manufacturing operation that includes both automated and manual production lines.
CBL enters into a partnership with UK biscuit giant Associated Biscuits Limited (ABL) and its famous Nabisco brand name to manufacture the internationally renowned Huntley and Palmers Cream Crackers and wafers along with its own line of distinctive Munchee Cream Crackers and Wafers.
Munchee is recognized among global brands with its win at the 6th International Food Awards at the prestigious ‘Anuga 83’ Cologne International Food Trade Fair.
CBL carries out its first export to Europe with a shipment of Hawaiian Cookies to Sweden. A shipment of 03 container loads of Hawaiian Cookies are also sent to Canada.
CBL wins the certificate of merit at the Presidential Exports Awards and is the first Sri Lankan biscuit exporter to be recognized at the Presidential Awards.
When the partnership with ABL ended in the late 1980’s, CBL had begun its own distribution with 40 distributors, 40 salespersons and staff of 500 and a new plant to increase capacity and support the rising popularity of the Munchee range.
The Sri Lankan economy struggles in the late 1980's and early 1990's. CBL too faces personnel problems and labour unrest. CBL holds company-wide discussions to include employees in the company’s plans and gather suggestions on cost reduction. This proved so fruitful that, despite the economic crisis, CBL records a profit.
The company begins manufacturing the Ritzbury brand of chocolate, importing a chocolate machine for individual chocolate and an enrobing plant to make chocolate coated biscuits and wafers.
Munchee expands into the U.S market, entering into a long term partnership with a large distributor with over 150 branches across the United States.
Munchee launches the Munchee Kurakkan Cracker using locally grown Finger Millet for the first time in Sri Lanka. Finger Millet is a cereal that is high in dietary fibre, natural iron and calcium and Munchee’s light airy cracker is a crowd favourite. .
CBL changes Sri Lanka’s chocolate landscape with a range of specialty handcrafted premium chocolate under the Ritzbury brand. This is designed in the bespoke shape, flavour, colour, texture, filling and ensconced in exquisite packaging to match the occasion and the mood it intends to create.
Munchee launches the award winning “Munchee Tikiri Mole” campaign for Munchee Tikiri Marie biscuits. This vitamin enriched Marie biscuit is enriched with vitamins and minerals and is a firm Children’s favourite.
The Munchee Tikiri Shishyadara scholarship programme is launched to support children of low income families and to prevent early school dropouts. This programme is the most far reaching of its kind in the Sri Lankan private sector, supporting over 2500 children to complete their primary, secondary and tertiary education.
CBL ventures into the textured soy segment with the Lankasoy brand by acquiring 70% of Soy Foods Limited. The brand offers a variety of unique flavor combinations to cater to the nutritional needs of the country and as an alternative to meat based protein.
Munchee relaunches the iconic “Munchee Lemon Puff” increasing its market share in the puff category from 30% to 50%. The new product is launched as a sandwich biscuit with more tangy lemon cream.
The popular Munchee Cream Cracker is re- launched as the ‘Super Cream Cracker’ with a reformulation of the recipe to deliver a crispier and more flavor-complex cracker.
CBL begins production of high quality sponge cakes under the Tiara brand, becoming the first Sri Lankan manufacturer to produce cakes for the mass consumer in a sterile automated facility.
Acquiring 60% stake in Cecil Foods, CBL begins manufacturing and processing organic fruits and spices for the export market. Through these operations, the Company establishes backward integration processes with over 1200 organic farmers.
CBL becomes the only confectionary company in Sri Lanka to acquire all relevant quality certifications for its line of business including SLS, ISO 9001:2000, ISO 14001 and HACCP.
CBL acquires 80% of Plenty Foods (Pvt) Ltd and launches the Samaposha Brand using locally grown greens and grains sourced from its network of over 13,000 registered farmers through guaranteed purchasing and pricing schemes. Samaposha is most popular as Samaposha Aggala, made by combining Samaposha with scraped coconut and honey.
CBL establishes a fully owned manufacturing facility in Bangladesh to manufacture biscuits & chocolate and to distribute the Munchee brand in the region.
After almost 50 years of driving the company’s vision, Mineka Wickramasingha steps down as Chairman and assumes the role of President Emeritus. Ramya Wickramasingha who is CBL’s Deputy Chairman is appointed as Chairman of the CBL Group.
CBL launches the Nutriline range of cereals using locally grown produce to give consumers high quality breakfast choices and the goodness of Sri Lankan greens and grains.
CBL launches the Sera range of coconut milk which includes only coconut milk and water and preserves the nutrition and taste of fresh coconut milk.
CBL establishes a manufacturing facility in Myanmar to manufacture and distribute the Munchee brand and strengthen its presence in the South Asian region.
CBL is restructured to strengthen its steady expansion and CBL Investments is established as the holding company of the CBL Group - one of Sri Lanka’s largest diversified food conglomerates.
CBL partners with SPAR - A South African supermarket giant and the world’s leading voluntary food retail chain to promote joint cooperation between wholesalers and retailers and bring international retail to Sri Lanka.
CBL celebrates 50 years of creating meaningful growth for Sri Lankan communities under its core values of caring, quality, innovation and integrity.
CBL establishes its own manufacturing and distribution facility in Ghana to cater to the West African region.