Bhoomi positions sugarcane water as healthy for people, the planet & Black farmers economically

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Source: Bhoomi
Source: Bhoomi

Related tags Sugar functional beverage

Sugar and healthy usually occupy opposite ends of the spectrum, but startup Bhoomi wants to bring them together in a line of cold-pressed cane water elixirs featuring traditional Ayurvedic ingredients and a compelling mission to “balance health, equitable economies and regenerative practices.”

“Sugar is public enemy number one. Many find sugar, especially granulated sugar and how it is made, in terms of pesticide use, as well as what it does to the body to be pretty detrimental,”​ acknowledged Bhoomi​ founder and CEO Arpit Bhopalkar. But, he added, “what we do with our cane water … provides immense benefits”​ for people’s health and that of the planet.

He explained that Bhoomi’s cold-pressed cane water (featuring 15g sugar per 12oz bottle) is made by extracting naturally occurring water or juice from the sugarcane stalk, which is about 75-80% water infused with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients – making it an ideal way to provide functional hydration and restore electrolytes.

He added the beverages also are certified low-glycemic, which means they won’t spike consumers blood sugar, but rather are a sustained energy source.

Bhoomi further enhances the beverage with traditional Ayurvedic ingredients that provide different functional benefits. These include ginger, moringa, and turmeric, which are touted for supporting immunity and energy.

‘It is equally important for America to listen to and support Black farmers’

While sugarcane water may be unfamiliar or new to many Americans, the beverage is widely consumed in Southeast Asia, South Asia, African countries and Latin and Central America, Bhopalkar said.

In fact, it was while growing up in India and playing table-tennis as an internationally recognized athlete that Bhopalkar developed a habit of drinking sugar can juice after training or competing. But when he moved to New Orleans to study and play table tennis for Tulane, he said he was chagrined not to find sugarcane.

After discovering that sugarcane grew well in New Orleans, Bhopalkar decided to bring the traditional beverage to US and in doing so create an economic path for black farmers, on whose backs he says the sugarcane industry was unfairly built through slavery and oppression.

“The primary goal or mission of Bhoomi is not just to offer a product that promotes why sugar cane juice is beneficial in terms of health. It is equally important for America to listen to and support Black farmers,”​ he said.

“Just in Louisiana, there were once 60 African-American sugar cane farmers who worked 20 years ago, but now there are just four families. Many [Black farmers] have been pushed off their land due to discriminatory practices. And their story is something we want to amplify”​ and address by creating a new economic opportunity, Bhopalkar said.

As such, he works with minority farmers to source and grow the sugarcane used in Bhoomi’s beverages and he shares their experiences on the company’s website​.

Bhoomi strives to ‘revolutionize sugar cane’

Finally, for the hat trick, Bhopalkar said he envisions taking sugar cane to the next level by growing, processing and packaging cane water in way that is not just environmentally sustainable but regenerative.  

“Having a positive impact on Mother Earth is really important to us, as reflected in our brand name,”​ which means earth or soil in Sanskrit and is the name of a Hindu earth goddess, Bhopalkar said.

He explained that Bhoomi wants to “revolutionize sugar cane,”​ which is a grass that, if cultivated in the right way, can help capture carbon and restore soil health. It also works with regional farmers to reduce the use of pesticides and chemicals, which he said can harm the soil.

To “take sugar cane to the next level,”​ Bhoomi even uses it to make its bottle – a move that helps reduce greenhouse gasses by 89.5% annually compared to its previous bottle, according to Bhoomi, which worked with Trayak and the Climate Collaborative to benchmark its previous packaging and develop a climate-improved alternative.

The switch from PET bottles to bio-HDPE bottles also helps reduce fossil fuel consumption 62.6%, which is equal to nearly 22 barrels of oil, and reduce water consumption by 22%, which is about 227,350 gallons of water or enough for 36 people to shower daily for a year.

With this three-prong mission to improve consumers’  health, the health of the planet and lift up minority farmers, Bhopalkar hopes to one day sell Bhoomi nationally across channels and retailers. For now, it is available on the Bhoomi website, and at independent stores in Louisiana and Texas, select stores in New York and New Jersey, select Whole Foods Markets and later this month will be in select HEB stores.

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