Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Green Hills adds evaporated cane juice to the market

Published:Sunday | December 27, 2015 | 12:00 AMTameka Gordon

Health-conscious individuals now have another choice of sweetener with the introduction to the market of Green Hills Distributors Limited's evaporated cane juice.

The fledgling health food company has come out with a line of about 20 products as it takes aim at snagging "eight to 10 per cent of the health food market," manager Ricardo Keith told Sunday Business.

Though registered in 2011, Green Hills started trading just two months ago, with the evaporated cane juice among its list of imported products.

"We are a small health food distributor and we are coming with our own line of products and trying to bring the healthy version of everyday products to the market," he said.

Green Hills packages the cane sugar product it imports from Asia, the United States and Canada at its Kingston-based facility, with distribution now centred in Kingston and Ocho Rios, Keith said.

"We don't have that facility here (to manufacture)," he said, noting that the company has a Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ), registered facility at which it handles "90 per cent of our packaging".

To get the evaporated cane juice, "the dehydrated cane juice is basically spray-dried to extract the liquid, so what you have remaining is basically the sugar (but) it's not burnt," Keith said, noting that it was the typical process of extracting sugar from sugar cane.

The end product is crystallized cane juice, he said.

"Based on our investigation, it is healthier than burnt sugar ... and it is not as sweet as the burnt sugar," he added.

The businessman said the company is also in talks with manufacturers "to get some sort of agreement where we can do it ourselves".

The products are sold in roughly 11 supermarkets around the island so far, but Green Hills plans to push the product through other distributors, including gasolene service stations, pharmacies, restaurants and fitness centres in the coming months as it seeks to eke out more market.

"We will expanding the supermarket range, (and) we are looking at pharmacies, gas stations, mini-marts, restaurants, gyms and hotels as well," he said.

The company also sells the product through Health and Nutrition Limited, an affiliate company sited at the Sovereign Centre, St Andrew, Keith said, adding that its own offices are located in Portmore, St Catherine.

To increase its footprint, Green Hills plans to rebrand and add new packaging come next year.

Products sold through Health and Nutrition Ltd currently come in clear plastic bags.

"Within another month or so, we will be coming out with redesigned labels and packages based on consumers' requests for package they can store the product in after opening," he said.

Green Hills also distributes medicinal rice; coconut sugar, for which it needs a permit from the Coconut Industry Board; hemp oil and flour, among other things.

The slate of 20 products also comprises starches of cassava, yellow yam and green banana and plantain, pumpkin and cocoa, some of which are currently on the market, Keith said.

"We are looking for an eight to 10 per cent of the health food market because we have plans to introduce another 25 products, some of which are not well known," he said.

tameka.gordon@gleanerjm.com