By Ryan Velez
With a consumer base that’s becoming more health-conscious and seeking out natural ingredients, the healthy beverage industry has exploded in the last few years. Products like guava juice, coconut water, and tamarind juice are taking more and more space on shelves nationwide, but one name you many not have heard of is sugarcane juice. Entrepreneurs like Ganiu Ladejobi are banking on this being the new beverage trend. Ladejobi’s company, Sugarcane Island, describes its offerings as “Sweet juice from farm fresh sugarcane stalks.”
In an interview with Black Enterprise, Ladejobi explains how the idea for this drink came about. After a visit to his native Nigeria, he found himself missing the taste of cold pressed sugarcane juice free from additives, preservatives, or added sugar. Unable to find it, he decided to make it himself. Seeing the mix of African and Caribbean immigrants in his new home in New York City, he saw the potential for this as a business opportunity.
Many may draw the comparison to coconut water from sugarcane juice, but Ladejobi points out that it actually has more nutrients than its counterpart. “There has also been scientific research done on the possible health benefits of sugarcane juice. Ayurvedic medicine has long used sugarcane juice as a natural remedy for ailments. We have shared some of this research on our website,” he says. He also adds that the usage of this as a plant-based-sweetener only adds to its potential as the next popular beverage.
At the moment, Sugarcane Island is only available locally in New York City, but people in other states can buy the juice from the company website, which also has a list of the stores where it is sold. Ladejobi and his partners, Peterson Lochard and Mackenzie Bien-Aime, both of Haitian backgrounds, are not looking to stop here, though. Their immediate goal is to widen retail distribution by raising capital, as well as increasing distribution to specialty cocktail bars, restaurants, and quick service restaurants.
In addition, juice isn’t their only plan for sugarcane. Ladejobi describes the company’s goal as being “a consumer products company that is focused on producing healthy and sustainable products from sugarcane.” One of their recent offerings is 100% pure cane syrup, which can be used from a topping on pancakes to a sweetener for smoothies, coffee, or tea. Some future products on the horizon include herbal teas, all natural sugarcane body soaps, sugarcane infused energy bars and more.