Soft drink maker awarded £15K in funding by UK university

By William Dodds

- Last updated on GMT

Cacto soft drinks are made with prickly pear cactus fruit. Credit: Getty / EMS-FORSTER-PRODUCTIONS
Cacto soft drinks are made with prickly pear cactus fruit. Credit: Getty / EMS-FORSTER-PRODUCTIONS

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Soft drink manufacturer Cacto has secured £15,000 in funding from the University of West England.

The funding, which is part of the University’s Entrepreneurial Futures Award, is given to businesses that show potential and traction with their ventures. Cacto was awarded the money from a pool of more than 60 businesses and will use the funds to develop its rebrand and two new products, which are set to launch in February 2024.

Founded in 2020 by Sam Jukes, Cacto’s current range of products includes three sparkling drinks that are made with prickly pear cactus fruit. The two new SKUs are made from Sicilian prickly pear fruit and are low in calories and high in electrolytes, particularly magnesium and potassium. Prickly pears are said to be a great source of electrolytes, vitamins, calcium and antioxidants such as phenolic acid.

'Funding is extremely valuable to the brand'

Jukes grew up in Bristol, where the University of West England is based, and is passionate about the holistic health benefits of prickly pear fruit, which led him to establish the brand Cacto. Reflecting on being chosen for the funding, Jukes said he was delighted by the decision.

“As a young business, the funding is extremely valuable to the brand, allowing us to expand our range of drinks to offer further products that give consumers the opportunity to enjoy a health drink with a difference​,” Jukes continued.

Prickly pear fruit is not only delicious, but its immense health benefits extend beyond human health. With water deprivation being a growing environmental concern, prickly pears require hardly any water to grow. With over 70% of the world’s water used in agriculture, we are passionate about our greater mission as a business.

“We aim to donate a portion of our Net Profits to to contribute to those in need of clean drinking water. We are excited for 2024 and we are looking forward to continuing our journey to normalising the prickly pear and create health drinks which are readily available for all to enjoy​.”

In other news, Heineken has sold the site of the historic Caledonian Brewery, which first opened in 1869, to property development firm Artisan Real Estate.

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