September 25, 2019
At a time when sweets of all kinds jostle for space in shelves, the humble kamarkat is seeing a revival through innovative marketing and focus on using healthy items in its preparation.
Kamarkat, a traditional brown sugar candy made of coconut and jaggery, now edged out by modern candies and chocolates, still finds a pride of place in niche sweet shops.
S Ram, a Chennai-based manufacturer of kamarkat tells The Covai Post, “Actually we were trading in millets, oils, jaggery and coconuts for five years which were all sourced directly from farmers in Gobichettipalayam. We were trading nearly five to ten tonnes of jaggery, when I thought about the idea of selling it as a value-added product. Jaggery is good for diabetics and often preferred over sugar by health freaks. So we hit upon the idea of making Kamarkat, as our company already had the ingredients – jaggery and coconut.”
Ram found that adults would buy the sweet, but children preferred eating only if it was branded with their favourite cartoon characters. “So we designed the Mr. Kamarkat cartoon logo dressed in rustic attire with a clownish smile. It was an instant hit and we have sold nearly 10,000 pieces of candy since its launch this August,” he says. He adds that they make this candy by hand, with no preservatives but add some milk to soften the brittle texture.
Ram’s future plans are to make a softer kamarkat, for a caramelised taste and chewier texture. “We also plan to sell Mr. Kamarkat lookalike dolls for better sales. Currently we market all over Tamil Nadu. I also plan to manufacture paneer honey candy (mitthai) soon, another traditional sweet made with jaggery,” he said.
S Vivin Solomon, owner of the four-year-old Noruks Snacks also sells kamarkat candy in all branches of their shops in Coimbatore located in Saibaba Colony, Ganapathy, Ramanathapuram among others.
“We sell about 500 kgs of kamarkats every month throughout the year. Our kamarkat is made manually with karupatti jaggery (palm jaggery) and coconut, without preservatives. Mostly customers in the age group 35-60 years prefer this as it is a healthier option to sugar-based sweets. All our sweets are made with karupatti and savouries are made with millets,” he says.