KC – Celebrating 100 Years of Sweet Success
November 7th, 2022
In 1922 Abdul and Zainab Khan started a candy-making business at their home, located in the heart of the sugar belt, the Khans first sold sweets by biking across Couva. As KC Candy commemorates its 100th anniversary, Satnarine Bachew, Chief Executive Officer, shares how the company moved from these humble beginnings to become a global exporter.
Establishing a global footprint
“We currently export to 21 markets including CARICOM, Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, the Dominican Republic, and the Netherland Antilles. Within the region, Guyana is our largest export market and Grace Kennedy is one of our biggest customers. Recently we also started exporting to Martinique as well as Tortola in the US Virgin Islands,” Bachew elaborates. KC’s flagship product is its hard candy line, “KC has a good cross section of products, our mints are very popular – ginger mints, dinner mints and icy mints and our gum and toffee lines are also very strong.” In February KC resumed shipments to the UK with the strategic intent of expanding into Europe.
Adapting, innovating, succeeding
KC’s innovation centres around ‘culturalising’ its products by incorporating local flavours and packaging designs such as cricket and steelpan. Today KC’s customers are more sophisticated with growing interests in health and wellbeing, “More consumers are reading labels and want to know the composition of what they are putting into their bodies. There is also a global drive towards healthier products, so sugar-free candy has become very popular. Consumers are also seeking products with medicinal properties such as ginger, and there is a growing demand for high-energy options. This is where we are trying to modify our product line to satisfy those needs.”
Celebrating a Century
KC will kick off its centennial year celebrations by firstly recognising the contribution of its employees, customers, suppliers, and shareholders, “We are a family-oriented company, so most importantly we will be celebrating some of our employees who have worked with us for many years.” As part of its commemorative activities, later this year KC will launch a foundation, KC Kids in Need, “it’s an initiative we are very proud of as there are so many disadvantaged children, and this is an umbrella through which we can give back to the community.”
Other planned initiatives include support to the Diabetes Association of Trinidad and Tobago, collaborating with TTPost to launch the first-ever candy stamp in October and construction of an arch welcoming visitors to KC’s hometown of Couva, the newly acclaimed, “Candy City”.
Roadmap for the next 100 years
“From a manufacturing perspective, economies of scale only materialise from fully utilising your plant. KC’s plant utilisation rate is currently 40 percent because our manufacturing runs are eight (8) hours per day, five (5) days per week. Every year the plant depreciates and to capitalise on this you must run the plant at full capacity.” As a result, sales are the engine of growth for KC, with the real potential being in the export market.
As he looks to the future Bachew says, “Our strategic intent is to grow our global footprint alongside the local market by becoming more innovative and more competitive. It’s about refocusing our product line and increasing exports. That is where growth is going to come from. And if we are successful, then we can better utilise our plant at least up to 80 percent so that we can improve our economies of scale and take the company to another level. That is our vision for the next 100 years.”
By Natalie Dookie