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50 Leading Companies of the Year 2022

Kouvolan Lakritsi Oy: Producer of the Best Liquorice in the World

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Liquorice root has had a very long presence in human history as it has been used for over 6000 years as medicine by humankind. Egyptian Pharaohs liked to be buried with liquorice roots because they could have their healthy drink right after they arrived at the afterlife. Napoleon Bonaparte found licorice soothing during battle. He apparently ate so much of it that his teeth turned black! Many other warlords used liquorice roots, including Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great.

Today, Licorice candy, a chewy, elongated confection prepared from licorice, is demanded both by adults and children alike worldwide. And the best liquorice candy producer in the world is undoubtedly - Kouvolan Lakritsi Oy.

Kouvola liquorice has been produced in an uncompromising manner since 1945. The flavor is born out of the traditional production method, the right people, a polished recipe, armfuls of love, and a supply chain that guarantees the freshness of every liquorice bite.

Based out of Kouvola, Southern Finland, Kouvola Lakritsi Oy believes firmly in the manual craft of making the liquorice candy. Even today, the company values the traditions of liquorice production, and they prepare the delicacies using traditional methods – this means cooking in an open pot by real people.

The company has produced liquorice in the same manner since 1945, but the recipe was amended slightly in 1960. This was done by an English gentleman consultant and liquorice specialist, H. Knoch. The flavor turned out to be an instant hit among tasters and the Kouvola liquorice has been made with the recipe amended by Mr. Knoch since then.

Timo Nisula is the sole owner of Kouvolan Lakritsi Oy. We got in touch with him recently for an interview. He told us about the history that helped forge the company and the process that helps Kouvolan Liquorice to be distinguished as the best liquorice in the world. Read on for the excerpts from the interview.

Q. Could you tell us a bit about Kouvolan Lakritsi Oy’s history?

The company was founded in 1906 in Viborg and it was originally a soft drinks company. Then Finland got into a war with Russia and the company had to move away from the city of Viborg, which was next to Russia’s border. After the war, there was a lack of raw materials and companies needed to have a permit to buy those. But the company did not get the permit to buy raw materials for soft drinks, but the government was kind enough to give a permit to buy raw materials for making Liquorice. Rest is history. Since 1945, the company has made liquorice.

Tell us about your expertise.

We are liquorice candy makers, but we also do co-operation with beer and gin producers, ice-cream companies and many others, like restaurants and other food producers, to make new products with liquorice.

Q. How do you decide what types of products you want to make? How did you come up with this name?

We create products that we can do quite easily and what we think can be different from others on the market. The company’s name was chosen by the consumers, because company is located on city of Kouvola. The Company tried many names, but our consumers decided to use the name of Kouvolan Lakritsi.

“We do not want to have effective 24/7 machines – that’s when you make only average quality products.”

Q. What are the factors that affect the pricing of your products?

We use a lot of handcrafters to ensure high quality, we are not the most effective and our liquorice costs, but you need to put in the time to make best of the best. Also, best ingredients are not the cheapest ones.

Q. How do you source quality ingredients for your products?

We have long history of buying only the best raw materials from the best suppliers.

Q. Baking can be time-consuming, especially, baking in large quantities. How do you manage your baking process?

That is the hardest part of making liquorice. It needs time and a polished recipe. Our cooks need to be awake all the time, that’s how we can do our magic. We do not want to have effective 24/7 machines – that’s when you make only average quality products.

Q. To maintain freshness, you need to bake frequently, making it difficult to work ahead or take time off. How do you maintain the quality of your products?

We do not warehouse, we make products on demand against orders and we deliver everything right after they are packed.

Q. How do you market your services?

We make recipes for baking, cooking and we are active in social media. We make different marketing efforts as compared to others in our space, like the Guinness world record. We had one campaign called New start in Kouvola, where we searched for someone who needed to have a new start to his/her life. The chosen one got an apartment and a job in our factory.

Q. What is your company working on currently?

We are looking at healthy-trend products. We are also studying cellular biology.

Q. What does the future hold for your company and its customers? Are exciting things on the way?

We are expanding heavily on the export-side. Our target is to scale our current liquorice production by 10-times and improve our turnover by 100-times, together with our current line and other types of liquorice-based healthy products.

“We are liquorice candy makers, but we also do co-operation with beer and gin producers, ice-cream companies and many others, like restaurants and other food producers, to make new products with liquorice.”

“We do not warehouse, we make products on demand against orders and we deliver everything right after they are packed.”