Picture this – the sun is beating down on a parched stretch of road and as you look around for respite, you spot a vendor selling sugarcane juice. Freshly squeezed, with a hint of lime and ginger to enhance the natural sweetness – nothing else compares to downing a glass of sugarcane juice on a hot summer day. Never mind the flies or dozen other insects that probably want their fill too. If your stomach can hold up, you disregard the conditions in which the juice is sold. And those with more delicate systems find safer, more sterile options to satiate their thirst.
While this might have been the scene a few years ago, things are now changing for the better. For, Bengaluru based Cane-O-La is keen on making this juice, which boasts of several medicinal properties, available through hygienic means and at an affordable price. The price itself seems unbeatable at Rs. 10 for 300 ml. as against Rs. 10 for 200 ml., which is close to the price a street vendor would charge. “Volumes, therefore, are important for us. Finding the right location, with higher footfall is one of the strategies to ensure this,” explains G. Srinivasa Rao, chairman and managing director.
Finding the right location, with higher footfall, is one of the strategies to ensure higher volumes
Cane-O-La is the latest venture of 35-year-old Mayura Group which includes Good Bread Ltd., Nammura Hotel Ltd., and Mayura Foods Pvt. Ltd. amongst other brands. “Our group works with a motto of maintaining international standards of hygiene, levying an affordable price and taking utmost care of customer satisfaction,” says Rao. And this extends to its latest offering.
Off the shelf
A primary challenge for this product is the shelf life of sugarcane juice. As the juice needs to be consumed within eight to ten minutes post its extraction, logistics becomes extremely important for this business. “We have our warehouses located in Bengaluru and Mandya, which procure the specially grown cane directly from farmers, process (clean, peal, cut and pack) and transport the same to the outlets in temperature controlled vehicles to ensure that it does not spoil before reaching consumers,” explains Rao. The timely manner in which this process is executed is critical for this business model. The initial success is testament to the quality of product offering and this is perhaps the reason why consumer acceptance is increasing.
To grow, research
While outlining the various steps that led to the final product, Rao says, “We began with research on the breed of sugarcane to be cultivated, for which we took the support of Sugarcane Breeding Institute, Coimbatore and Central Food Technologies Research Institute, Mysore. We also developed food grade machines, did research and development for various natural ingredients and finally, after four years, branded the end product as Cane-O-La.” This goes to show that research plays an important role in the growth of the company. To add to its current product offering, Cane-O-La has come up with natural flavours and that will enhance, yet, not take anything away from the original taste. “Apart from this, we are planning to introduce various jaggery based products developed in hygienic conditions, employing people from villages,” adds Rao.
While the first Cane-O-La outlet was opened in Bengaluru in 2007, today, it has 20 outlets in Bengaluru and Mysore in Karnataka and Cuddappah in Andhra Pradesh. Plans are in place to open more outlets in the future. The company seeks to expand while taking the franchisee route as it encourages entrepreneurs and also enables brand building in a shorter period of time. “The foremost requirement is that the entrepreneur should have some knowledge of the food business and should be prepared to take care of daily operations of the outlet,” says Rao. Cane-O-La will train the staff of the franchisee for at least a month, to help them understand the various procedures involved. Expansion will be slow and steady as the promoters want to ensure complete dedication to quality.
Other plans include opening kiosks in places such as railway stations, bus depots and corporate offices such as Infosys Technologies and Wipro. Cane-O-La also signed up with malls and supermarkets to set up sugarcane juice stalls in their premises. “Moreover, we are in negotiation with interested parties to take up this concept in other states,” adds Rao.
Interestingly, Cane-O-La has received consumer requests asking for its juice to be served as a welcome drink for occasions. “These requests inspired us to launch our catering team for functions,” explains Rao.
Cane-O-La, a self-financed private entity, is managed by qualified professionals who take care of day-to-day operations. For now, its strategy of quality upkeep has worked in achieving the organisational goal. But, with time, it hopes to have in its fold, enough master franchisees with equal commitment who can spread the brand to every nook and corner of India.