It was the 1980s when Renato Fechino and his brother started mixing ground peanuts with sugar in a PVC pipe while waiting for the factory’s candy batch to be ready. “We would do it in a very improvised way”, he remembers.
The Santa Helena factory was founded in 1942 by his grandfather, José Marques Telles, and has been in the family ever since. Renato was working in the administrative section of the company when the idea for the new product came out. “At first, it was just for ourselves. We used a little hammer to press the ground peanuts and the sugar together and mold it in the shape of a cork.”
The candy tasted so good, they decided to test the public’s response to it. This was the beginning of what became a beloved treat all over Brazil: Paçoquita. In 1986, after some initial improvements, the product officially entered the market and became an immediate success.
Today, Paçoquita is the company’s main product – over 1 million units are sold every day. The Paçoquita family got diversified, offering options with oats, whey protein, and zero sugar. All other company’s products together correspond to 10% of the candy’s production.
“Paçoquita has a very strong brand built over the years by its pioneering, by its quality and taste, and our efficient communication”, says Renato. There are more than 300 brands offering a similar product in the country, but none is a close competitor.
Almost 60% of the candy is made of peanuts, roasted just right for flavor fairness. “The roasting point requires a lot of work and nobody does it like us. We have a balanced product, with the right amount of salt to accentuate the taste and break the sweetness.”
Outside the country, Paçoquita is mainly sold to Brazilian expats communities, that have a sentimental bonding to the candy. The company has been investing in ways to conquer fans with different accents and is starting to look for new markets.
Their main focuses are the US, Canada, China, Japan, and South American neighbors such as Uruguay, Chile, and Colombia. “There is no product like ours abroad and we believe in it. It tastes good and it is healthy”, says Renato.
Brazil’s peanut production in the 2020/2021 crop is estimated at 597.5 thousand tons, an increase of 7% compared to the 2019/2020 crop, according to the August’s National Supply Company (CONAB) crop survey. This production currently occupies an area of 165.6 thousand hectares.
According to an estimate by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (MAPA), in July 2020, peanuts generated a Gross Production Value of R$2.7 billion.
The state of São Paulo leads the national production and is responsible for 94% of the peanuts produced in the country.