by Howard Campbell
[DENVER] – The chilly climes of Denver, Colorado seem an unlikely place to produce breadfruit snacks, but that is exactly what a Jamaican entrepreneur has done through his fledgling company.
Javion Blake, 32, is principal of Jus Chill International which debuted its Breadfruit Chips from Denver last March. Initially distributed in the United States east coast and Florida where there are large Jamaican Diasporas, the chips have also found favor in Texas, California, Georgia, Nevada, Minnesota, Illinois, Washington, Oregon and Arizona.
Blake, who is from rural Hanover parish on Jamaica’s north coast, is satisfied with the progress of his tropical product one year after it debuted in a competitive market.
“We offer products that satisfy the healthy snacking market niche where we pledge to avoid any ingredients that one would not find in their Grandma’s seasoning cabinet. Meaning, you can spell and pronounce all the ingredients in our products because they were made by nature not by (wo)man in a lab. We offer very simple ingredients,” he explained. “Secondly, we adhere to the Triple P principle in business when we are sourcing raw material and producing our products; essentially we make decisions that positively impact People, Planet, and Profit.”
Currently, the Breadfruit Chips is Jus Chill International’s sole product. Blake disclosed that the company ships as many as 500 bags a month, with breadfruit sourced from Hanover and other rural parishes in Jamaica, including Westmoreland, St. Elizabeth and Trelawny.
He expects that demand to grow in the second quarter of 2021 as Jus Chill International expands its line.
“We have been testing additional products in the targeted market segment which have been getting very good reviews. We are anticipating that we will have two to three more products on the market by the end of the second quarter of this year. Some will be variation of our current products while others will have an even more innovative twist to our offerings,” he said.
A mechanical engineer by profession, Blake is a graduate of Montana State University. He decided to enter the snack business after watching a documentary on the evolution of the American potato chip.
Within weeks, he was in Jamaica checking out government and agricultural logistics. By November, 2019 he and a “very lean team” and contract workers were preparing to ship the first batch of Jus Chill International Breadfruit Chips.
The US breadfruit market is a competitive one, with a healthy serving of products in South Florida and the East Coast. Many are from the Caribbean and Latin America.
In Colorado, Jus Chill International Breadfruit Chips are found in popular stores such as Ruby’s Market in Denver and Pacific Market in Aurora. Blake points to other growing demographics in the state.
“We have a very diverse segment of the market that consumes our products. They range from transplants who grew up in countries where breadfruit are a popular staple such as those from the Caribbean, Hawaii, Pacific Islanders, and Africa; to local health food enthusiasts who have never heard of breadfruit until it was introduced to them through our product,” he said.
“We have a retailer close to the University of Denver, and many of the patrons there are just college students looking to get some ethnic flavors into their diets when it is time to snack.”
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