Confini The Candy Co.’s Chandresh Rughani talks to Yummy about the difference between natural liquorice and liquorice in the candy manufacturing world, the process of cooking candy and the next big thing for Confini The Candy Co.
What is Confini the Candy Co?
Confini the Candy Co is a small confectionery business in Nairobi. We specialise in flavoured liquorice which is a new segment of candy in the Kenyan manufacturing world. Some of the brands that do liquorice are Allsorts and Haribo; we are doing something similar except with a different twist based on local consumer needs.
What is natural liquorice?
People know liqourice as a plant extract, a black aniseed-tasting goo. It was historically used in Europe to make candies because it was believed to have medicinal properties. However, liquorice in the candy manufacturing world is a candy made using wheat flour.
What are the medicinal benefits of natural liquorice?
Since time immemorial, people have been using it for stomach problems and throat issues. In today’s world, black liquorice medicinal is only used by a few people. So that name has been passed on to the candy world. But natural liquorice obviously causes people to misinterpret what liquorice is, thinking “Oh it’s that aniseed thing.” And a lot of people are averse to it.
How do you make your own version of liquorice?
We use wheat flour. What makes us different from other liquorice companies in the world is, based on our local read of the market, we have decided not to use a few ingredients. We do not put gelatin which is an issue for vegetarians. It does change the candy slightly but we’ve managed to create our own recipe where the candy is still chewy. We also do not use high fructose corn syrup or palm oil. And our candy is a bit stronger in flavour than everywhere else in the world.
What misconceptions do people have about liquorice?
Because this candy’s manufacturing process uses the name liquorice, people assume that whatever we make is going to taste of the liquorice root- think sambuca the drink which also has the aniseed flavour. When we have our little stalls at shows, we allow people to sample the candy for free and develop their own opinion.
How would you describe the candy itself?
Well, I love the candy. It’s fun to work with. You can have it as an inbetween at 11 o’clock in the morning, or when you are sitting by the computer and want to have a guilty indulgence that’s not so guilty.
What type of flavours do you use?
We use a natural-based flavour which we import. Flavour is flavour, the difference is how it is made. For example, an extract of the fruits or vegetables is taken and then synthetically modified and replicated like a clone and enhanced.
How is Confini Candy healthier than other types of candy?
Yes, it is healthier but it is not healthy. Everything with sugar has a side to it but because in our process we use wheat flour as one of our main ingredients, by default we use a lot less sugar than other candies. As with our name ‘Confini’, which means boundaries, I think everything within limits is good for you.
How can I get your candy?
You’ll find it at Carrefour, Chandarana, On the Way and Monty’s. You’ll find it at all the Zucchinis- because of our green credentials in terms of sugar, they are happy to have us. And we’re now trying to build the bigger chains such as Naivas and Tuskys into it.
What is the next big thing for Confini Candy?
As our logo has it, “Since Yesterday.” We are always trying to improve and try new things so we don’t believe in the next big thing but next big things. For example, we’ve got our version of jelly beans which don’t have a jelly base but have a cream liquorice base. We are looking at widening our portfolio and experimenting with nontraditional ideas.