The Government has taken steps to uplift the Cinnamon production in Sri Lanka to target international market. Cinnamon, indigenous to Sri Lanka is the pride among world's spices. Sri Lanka is the world's largest cinnamon producer and accounts for about 70 per cent of the global production, while cinnamon exports from Seychelles have steadily increased. However, cassia a cinnamon like spice obtained from the bark of a plant related to cinnamon is widely traded as a relatively cheap substitute for cinnamon.
In Sri Lanka, Cinnamon seems to have originated in the central hills where seven wild species of cinnamon occur in Kandy, Matale, Belihull oya, Haputale, Horton planes and the Sinharaja forest range. Presently cultivation concentrated along the coastal belt from Negambo to Matara, it has also made inroads to Kalutara and Ratnapura.
There are eight cinnamon species in Sri Lanka. Among them only Cinnamomum zeylanicum Blume is grown commercially. In tradition, there were several types of cinnamon categorized based on taste of the bark. “Pani-Miris Kurundu” was the best with sweet-pungent taste and “Miris Kurundu”, “Sevel Kurundu” and “Thiththa Kurundu” are the others. Currently ten cinnamon accessions have been identified based on yield and quality performances and best two lines, named as “Sri Vijaya” and “Sri Gamunu”, were released. Other selections are under evaluation in different agro climatic zones.
Cinnamon bark is largely available in the form of quills and making quills is unique to Sri Lanka. Quills are made by rolling the pealed bark and join several of them together to get a pipe like structure in the required length. Other than that pieces of bark are available as chips, quillings or featherings. Cinnamon is unique plant which has essential oil in leaves, bark and roots but chemical composition of them are completely different from each other. Essential oils are produced from both bark and leaves; major chemical in bark oil is Cinnamaldehyde and in leaf oil Euginol. Cinnamon is also available in pure ground form or as n ingredient in curry mixtures and pelleted form too.
Cinnamon is mostly used in cooking and baking. Cinnamon is a versatile spice which can be added to any food item such as salads, confectionaries, beverages, soups, stews and sauces. Cinnamon drink made by immersing pieces of bark in hot water is popular among Latin American countries. Cinnamon flavored tea is becoming popular. It is also used as a common ingredient in Chinese ad Aurvedic medicine. Cinnamon leaf and bark oils are used to flavor food products, in perfumery industry and in pharmaceutical industry.