THOOTHUKUDI: Being granted the Geographical Indication (GI) tag on Thursday, the Kovilpatti groundnut candy (kadalamittai) has become the first traditional product from the district and 34th from the State to receive the coveted status.
Albeit the process to get the GI tag for the candy was initiated by then Kovilpatti sub-collector K Vijaykarthikeyan in 2014, it soon gained traction after the Kovilpatti Kadalamittai Manufacturers and Retailers Association approached the Intellectual Property India (IPI) in November 2019.
Century-old manufacturing process
Deputy Registrar of Geographical Indications Chinnaraja G Naidu told TNIE that the candy was granted the status for its customary taste, traditional value and unique manufacturing process. The locally-sourced groundnut, grown in the surrounding rain-fed tracts of the black-soil region, and the unique manufacturing process of the roasted nuts and sugar jaggery add to the candy's fabulous taste, he said. The weather conditions of the region also have an influence over the quality of the raw materials, he added.
According to the documents submitted to the IPI, the manufacturing process is at least 100 years old. It is one Ponnambalam Nadar of Kovilpatti who had initially begun substituting sugar jaggery for its traditional ingredient -- palm jaggery. The sugar jaggery was initially outsourced from Maraiyur in Kerala, stated the documents validated by the IPI.
'Not peanut candy'
Chinnaraja said that 'groundnut candy' was the right name, instead of the generic peanut candy, as the nuts used were a native variety called 'Ver kadalai' in the southern districts. The candy is rich in protein, carbohydrates and several saccharides, making it tasty and healthy.
Kovilpatti Kadalamittai Manufacturers and Retailers Association Secretary K Kannan told TNIE that in the district at least 100 companies have been involved in the manufacturing process, with over 10,000 families involved, both directly and indirectly. "The product has a high demand in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka Telangana, Mumbai, and Delhi. It also has a good market in countries like Saudi, Malaysia, Singapore, Maldives, and Sri Lanka, he said. The groundnut is sourced from Kovilpatti, Kazhugumalai, Sankarankovil, Ettayapuram and Kayathar, whereas the sugar jaggery is procured from Sriviliputhur, Theni, and Salem. Over 20,000 kg groundnut candy is being manufactured every day, he added.
The status has brought recognition for the product, said Kannan, extending his gratitude to then Kovilpatti sub-collector for his efforts.
Karupatti, Macaroons in line
The district is also the home to Udangudi karupatti and macaroons, which are well on their way to receive the same status. The process for granting the GI tag to macaroons is pending before the department regarding proof for its historical connections, while the Udangudi karupatti is still in the initial stage of the process.