COYUCA DE BENITEZ, Mexico – A Mexican businessman from the town of Coyuca de Benitez in the southeastern state of Guerrero has reformulated the traditional coconut candies of the region and now seeks to export them.
“We make them in an artisanal way, with less sugar and some secret ingredients,” Victor Manuel Guzman Aguilar told EFE this Friday in an interview.
Production is handled by just two people in a small workshop, but with effort, dedication and new recipes, his new candies have caught the attention of tourists to this state and its popular seaside resort, Acapulco.
They come here from as far afield as France, the United States and Colombia.
In recent years, the traditional candies of the region have become popular with tourists from both Mexico and abroad. Most of the tasty morsels are derived from coconut.
With an eye on sales, Guzman Aguilar launched a series of combinations with other fruits grown in the area.
“I make a natural coconut bark candy (cocada), also coconut with tamarind, with guava or with pineapple,” he said about how he gives his sweet treats that exotic touch.
Doing it right requires a process that takes some 10 hours of shell-breaking, pitting, cutting up, grating, weighing the ingredients before putting them in a copper pot made especially for making the candy.
“Twenty kilos (44 lbs.) of coconut is enough to fill 40 jars holding 1 liter each,” Guzman Aguilar said.
On a normal day he makes from five to 10 jars with 20 pieces each, at a cost of 60 pesos ($3.10).
Guzman said coconut can be used to make a number of other products besides candies, like the traditional guava jelly and coconut oil, all made the artisanal way.
“It has endless benefits including an unsaturated oil that is 100 percent natural. Though we don’t have a label yet to act as our guarantee, it is organic,” he said.
Despite the lack of support from the sector, Guzman won’t be beaten and says that within this project he also wants to make a line of personal hygiene products including shampoo, soap and mouthwash.
All of them will be derived from coconut and made in the artisanal fashion.
Though a large barrier must be removed before Guzman Aguilar can carry out his export project, he said that making coconut candies was a dream of his youth and he’s glad he could make it come true.
“My grandparents, my dad, they were born making coconut candy and I and all my siblings are professionals. Thanks to coconuts, we could attend university,” he said.
For that reason he believes that big factories are totally unnecessary when you can have family workshops that “create jobs so country folk won’t have to move somewhere else.”
One of the next challenges he is ready to face is an attempt to get his products certified so they can be exported.
Even so, his coconut candies are crossing borders because friends and tourists constantly visit his workshop to buy them.