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By Thahasello Mphatsoe

Multimedia Journalist

Watch: Richester Foods has found the sweet spot to selling sweets

If you look at the price of counterpart real chocolate, It’s become almost unaffordable. “So, people appreciate that you can get a delicious chocolate at an amazing price”. 

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Seeing what happens inside one of South Africa’s biggest candy manufacturing factories feels like an experience out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory without the weird, scary undertone and people turning blue for testing gum.

Richester Foods was founded in 2005, by a power team of a lawyer, dentist and charted accountant Mariam Tayob Cassim. 

“We started making our sweets literally by hand in buckets with the bare minimum of equipment. We are currently running six 7000 sweets a minute with a capacity to run 15 000 sweets a minute,” Says Mariam.

After 16 years in operation, Mariam and her team have found the “sweet spot to sweets”. 


Unlike many candy and chocolate companies, Richester intentionally manufactures candy for the mass market rather than the middle and upper class. These are the kind of sweets you will get from your corner stores and hawkers. 

“Our focus is on the mass market and giving the lower (Living Standards Measure) LSM’s an affordable product with the best quality”- “We manufacture everything with the consumer in mind, not only in the flavour but also the Hawker to sell it at the R1 to R2 coin,” explains Mariam. 

While some people are more concerned with their candy being gluten-free, probating-free etc. These candies are more catered to a consumer who is money sensitive – trying to get the most out of their candy. Some of the Richester candies can last 4 hours in your mouth, and some don’t need immediate refrigeration so hawkers can sell them in any setting. 

There are many concerns and controversies about buying candy from hawkers and outside our mainstream grocery shops. Mariam says that everything in the factory is tested and checked, “from the packaging to the raw material”.

One of Richester’s latest innovations is the coco bongo chocolate. These chocolates are reverse engineered using 85% locally manufactured goods and don’t melt.

“In that way, we could attract and sell a chocolate to a lower LSM where previously they didn’t have access to it because chocolate needs a cold chain”.

If you look at the price of counterpart real chocolate, It’s become almost unaffordable. “So, people appreciate that you can get a delicious chocolate at an amazing price”. 

Many challenges come with running a successful company, but Mariam was sure to put women and people of colour at the forefront of her brand. 

Richester Foods currently has the top managerial positions consisting of 50% female individuals. 

“The challenge came about: even though I was a chartered accountant, my husband was a dentist, and our third partner was a lawyer – we had to learn so much about running, starting, and managing a business that you don’t learn in school or university,” says Mariam

The fascinating discovery was realising how much time goes into making sweets. If you ever wondered what a 15 000 square meter facilities space producing 7000 sweets per minute, 24 hours a day smells like, I’d say heaven.

Also Read: Watch: Sadie’s Kosher Style Deli reopens after 16 years to once again offer freshly prepared Jewish meals

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