Candy Pop: Sweets and Toffees Producer in Rio Grande do Norte

Thiago Gadelha presents Candy Pop, a company created 3 years ago specialized in the production of sweets and toffees. Candy Pop exports 80% of its production to the US, while the rest is distributed in the Northeast of Brazil.

Interview with Antônio Thiago Gadelha Simas Neto, Director of Candy Pop

Thiago Gadelha

Firstly, could you give us an introduction on the state of Rio Grande do Norte for our readers who are not familiar with this state?

On the first day of production, we already had a deal to sell our production of sweets to a large American chocolate company. So we began to produce sweets for this company and also toffees for a large drugstore company in the United States.

The state of Rio Grande do Norte is located in the north east of Brazil, on the corner of the continent. It has a very privileged location in this sense. The climate is excellent; the temperature only varies by 5 degrees all year. It is a very sunny state. It offers characteristics that are very important to the international market aside from its location that makes it the closest state to the American, European and African markets. The north east and Rio Grande do Norte has a vocation for international warehousing of food products. We are very important in terms of salt and cashew nuts. We bring in fruit from abroad and process it to sell on a large scale to the American market. We have a textile industry that is very important because it employs the specialised workforce of hundreds of embroiderers that we have in the interior of the state. All of our production is centralised in industry, to attend the Brazilian markets and with the expectation of reaching the American and other foreign markets.

Now let’s talk a bit about your company Candy Pop.

Our company was set up in March 2010, so we are just three years old. The company was set up with the idea of producing for foreign markets. On the first day of production, we already had a deal to sell our production of sweets to a large American chocolate company. So we began to produce sweets for this company and also toffees for a large drugstore company in the United States. During the first years we were exporting 90% of our production. We also developed a little within the internal market which grew as the company grew. Today we have a production that has evolved from that period of development. It has been three years now and our company has an excellent perspective for growth.

Besides the United States, do you have plans of expanding to any other countries?

Our speciality is to manufacture our products within a joint venture, where the business is divided. Candy Pop produces the sweets and toffees and the partner company within the consumer market deals with the distribution. I earn money manufacturing and they earn money selling my product. This has worked really well for us. I do have other plans; I hope that Candy Pop can expand and incorporate other partnerships in this international business of sweets and toffees.

Talking about partnerships, are you looking towards having joint ventures in terms of technology or know how for example?

We are not a young company in terms of technology. I have been working in this field for more than 50 years. The staff at Candy Pop have a lot of experience of developing this international market. We brought in a lot of technology from the American market and also some from the European market to the previous factory and now we have this technology in the Candy Pop factory. We develop products here at Candy Pop together with our partners in the foreign markets. We have even been awarded prizes in the United States, in such a short time of being operational. This working relationship is like many others here in Rio Grande do Norte, that are making the most of our excellent location in relation to the largest consumer markets in the world.

What are the greatest challenges that your company has to face?

The main challenges are all here within Brazil. It is a huge challenge to be working in a business whose product is highly technological using really innovative technology and is a business with great potential within a country like Brazil that has still not carried out the necessary reforms. None of the reforms have been made here, neither the tributary reforms, labour reforms nor political reforms. At the moment this is the real stumbling block for the growth of a company like ours. Unfortunately, we have to say to the whole world that we urgently need these reforms.

Today we don’t depend as much on the specialised workforce, communications, technology and education are reaching the countryside now. Today our workers arrive at the factory and use their own work computers, they are familiar with technology and easily adapt to the new machines. We have a new machine coming from Germany that will wrap 2000 toffees per minute. Imagine the complex technology that goes into a product like that. It’s a toffee machine gun! Our workers may live in neighbouring towns or in the countryside, but they all have a good level of technological knowledge, which was certainly not the case 20 years ago. Today the state of Rio Grande do Norte has the Federation of Industries which gives huge support to this area of education and even in process development. So we are improving in this sense, but I have to say the great challenge is trying to do all this within an infrastructure that has not adapted or evolved. There is still too much bureaucracy and red tape that should not be in the way of companies today.

How much of your production is exported outside of Brazil?

80% of our production is exported and the rest is distributed here to all of the states in the north east of Brazil from the Amazon to Bahia. It is still a small production in relation to the market. However we are growing. We develop our product for the foreign market and then we adapt it and sell it using all this technology on the internal market. Our products are different to the rest of the products on the market. Our lollipops are filled with caramel and not with chewing gum. Our toffees are made with technology that was developed for the United States. Our sweets are fruit sweets made without milk. Our products have been developed for the large American consumer market and also for the Canadian market as currently some of our production goes to Canada.

Where would you like to see this company in 2 or 3 years’ time and what is your dream for this company in 10 years’ time?

My dream for the medium term, let’s say over the next 3 to 5 years, is to become the largest exporter of toffees in Brazil. In the future, I want to have more production units within the country and I want to capture new foreign markets as successfully as we have done with the United States. Primarily I want to take on the European markets, which is something we are already working on as a possibility.

Is there anything else you would like to add to this interview?

According to my partners, it is really good doing business in Natal, because they work during the day and they have fun at night. At any hour you can laze about on the beaches, which are truly beautiful. It’s a really sunny place; we have international cuisine and so my partners find it really great. They come here and work really hard and then they enjoy the attractions that Natal and the region has to offer to tourists. It is never cold here. There are more and more European businessmen buying houses here on the coastline of Rio Grande do Norte. When it is cold over in Europe, here it’s hot and when it’s hot over there, it’s less hot here!

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