Ever felt like having a glass of cold sugarcane juice and wished you could reach into your fridge for one? You couldn't have, because it was not something that you could bring home and store earlier. But what if you could do that now?
Enter sugarcane juice on demand. King Rudra Sugars in Karnataka’s Kalburgi (formerly known as Gulbarga) district has decided to start selling sugarcane juice in tetrapaks.
“If coconut water can be packed in a tetrapak and yet retain all its qualities, why can’t sugarcane juice have a shelf life,” asked MKHH Jilani, founder-promoter and Director (Finance) of King Rudra Sugars.
Finding the answer to that question, admittedly, had not been easy for Jilani. For months he has been collaborating with scientists from India’s premier labs, such as Central Food and Technological Research Institute, Mysuru, Defence Research and Development Organisation units across the country, the 100-year-old Sugarcane Breeding Institute in Coimbatore and Tetra Pak India itself to see how the tasty and sugary drink can be packaged for later use.
“Preliminary research has already proved that it is possible to pack cane juice and make it last without preservatives. But, we are still going ahead with additional testing along with preservatives to further enhance its shelf life,” said the man behind the idea.
Jilani, an IIMB alumnus is an innovator, investment banker and consultant to governments, revealed his plans on the sidelines of BengaluruITE.biz event here last week. He also runs a sugar factory, along with partner S.R. Patil, and is therefore confident of the sugarcane supply.
The idea came from a visit to Thailand and Hong Kong where he came across packaged sugarcane juice.
In fact, many entrepreneurs have tried to cash in on the popularity of sugarcane juice in India, but no one has as yet been successful in packaging it. Some, like Cane Crush in Bengaluru, have small standalone sugarcane kiosks where cane sticks are passed through the crusher and served in different flavours. They do offer takeaway packs, in litre bottles, but these have to be consumed within hours. CaneXpress too is another such venture. Raw Pressery also sells sugarcane juice in 250 ml bottles using cold-pressed technology which has a three-day shelf life.
Jilani was also quick to point out that his juice pack idea was validated when he found a ready taker in Mumbai who, he claims, has pre-ordered Rs 50-crore worth of the packs. “A gentleman told me whenever the factory rolls out sugarcane juice tetrapaks, he will place an order worth Rs 50 crore. Instances like these pushed me, in addition to the terrific response from potential users in Bengaluru, Pune and other cities,” he said.
The sugar factory’s total outlay in the first phase is Rs 270 crore, a part of which includes the manufacturing unit for the juice.