Wild harvested açaí by riverside populations

Wild harvested açaí helps generate income for riverside populations of Pará

Considered by many nutritionists to be a superfood because it is one of the richest sources of antioxidants, açaí can be used in the form of beverages, jellies, sweets and ice cream, among others, and has gained the national and international market. The açaí berry offers an opportunity for economic development that combines the social inclusion of family farmers with the conservation of forest ecosystems.

Brazil’s largest açaí production center is in the Tocantins River region in Pará. A region with hundreds of islands and about 50,000 inhabitants, which basically survive from açai extraction, wild cocoa and fishing. Sustainable activity in the region provides food and income for thousands of riverside families. It is precisely in one of these areas, in the municipality of Abaetetuba, that the company Almazonia has been investing in the work and purchase of the product directly from the communities to establish the so-called “rainforest economy”, turning native families into guardians of the Amazon.

 

 

 

How good for your health is the Açaí Berry?

The Açaí Berry from the Amazon has become famous and appreciated all over the world for its unique taste and nutritious qualities. Especially among sports loving people and athletes. But really, how good is the Açaí Berry for your health and what are the exact health benefits?

Health benefits of the açaí berry

The Açaí Berry from the Amazon has become famous and appreciated all over the world for its unique taste and nutritious qualities. Especially among sports loving people and athletes. But really, how good is the Açaí Berry for your health and what are the exact health benefits?

To answer this question, we can divide the benefits from the berry into two categories: The nutritional and energetic aspects of the fruit on the one hand, and its potential medicinal properties on the other.

 

 

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Nutritional benefits of the açaí berry

The Açai Berry began taking over the world because of its high-quality caloric energy contents, first becoming a trend among Jiu-Jitsu fighters and soon spreading out and into the good grace of practitioners of all other indoor, outdoor and radical sports. The amount of calories in the plain berries is comparable to that of a more famous tropical fruit, the banana. It will not put weight under your belt so long as you watch what you have your Açaí with. The fruit alone will provide 65 kcal per 100 g, (but this number can go as high as 250 kcal depending on the add-ons, like syrups, granolas, and other fruits). All accompanied by a plethora of other minerals, vitamins, proteins, healthy fats and fatty acids, making this one of the most nutritious fruits in the Amazon rainforest. So, as more people begin looking for more natural and healthier sources of nutrition and for new and exotic flavors, more and more the Açaí Berry finds its place in the diets of people all over the world. But the nutritional aspect is not all. Some of its properties are actively beneficial to your health.

Health benefits of the açaí berry

Let’s begin with its fat contents, most of which are of the mono and polyunsaturated forms. These are the good lipids, the ones that will help your body get rid of the bad, heart disease causing, LDL cholesterol.

Then, there’s its most famous medicinal property: The ability to help fight excess free radicals in your system. This is the so-called Antioxidant Property. Free radical chemistry is one of today’s busiest fields of medical and biochemical research. It is intimately related to the aging process and to other degenerative diseases, even some cancers as the latest studies point to. Recent research also shows that the Açaí Berry can be an excellent nutritional option for cancer patients in between chemotherapy sessions, bringing good quality protein and energy along with the antioxidants!

Some of the antioxidant substances found in the fruit are flavonoids, terpenes, tannins, vitamins A, C, and E. Anthocyanins, which are the substances that give the fruit its deep purple pigmentation, can improve the ability of an enzyme called sirtuin-6 to stop cells from becoming cancerous. These anthocyanins have also inhibited the growth of some intestine cancer cells, according to other studies; Grapes can also be a good source of this pigment, but it is not nearly as rich as the palm-berries are in other nutrients, energy, and antioxidants!

All in all, the Açai berries have been reported beneficial for many conditions like arthritis, cancer, obesity, and high cholesterol, as well as any other disease related to the damage caused by free radicals in your body.

There’s yet another health benefit from the fruit: It is a rainforest friendly crop, which helps improve the lives of the jungle people while preserving the biodiversity of the forest. And that is essential for the good health of all of us on this planet!


Importing açaí from Brazil

We import wild açaí, straight from nature richest source; Amazonia as we aim to preserve the standing forest and thrive its biodiversity. Our açaí is organic certified.

Importing açaí in its purest from Amazonia

  • We import wild açaí, straight from nature richest source; Amazonia as we aim to preserve the standing forest and thrive its biodiversity.
  • Our açaí is organic certified.
  • We ensure full traceability and fair trade as we work directly with the native families.
  • We own every step from the freshly harvested açaí berries to the warehouse and hence guarantee the preservation of its taste and its nutriotional benefits.

Açaí formats available

  • 12% (medium) frozen pulp in 60 x 100 gr boxes.
  • 14% (premium) frozen pulp in 60 x 100 gr boxes.
  • 16% (ultra-premium) frozen pulp in 60 x 100 gr boxes.

Packaging and product customization

  • We provide both transparent and private label packaging.
  • We provide tailor made taste profiles.

Importing açaí organic certified direct from Brazil as from 500 kilos for European customers (consolidated services of açaí import). Contact us for more info. 

 

 

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We let you focus on your business as we offer you a complete solution

  • Import açaí at substantial lower prices with smart logistics, combining orders of different clients into one container.
  • We handle all custom procedures, import duties and internal logistics within Europe.
  • We provide private label services whereby we handle all (legal) requirements including the registration at the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture (MAPA).

We own the process from harvest to warehouse and eliminate compromise

  • We source our wild açaí at Abaetetuba and Cametá, regions known for its high quality açaí with a very deep purple colour
  • We ensure that açaí is processed within 24 hours and is in deep frozen state (-18 degree Celsius) during the whole logistical chain to preserve its flavour and nutritional values.
  • Before exporting our organic açaí, we test the quality at an accredited laboratory to screen for microbes, yeast, mold, agro-toxins and pesticides.

The region Abaetetuba, about 2 hours from the state capital Belém, is  known for its high quality açaí with a very deep purple color. It is one of the regions where Almazonia sources its wild harvested açaí berries.

Importing açaí directly from Brazil offers substantial cost savings and provides full traceability.

Have you ever tasted the pure taste of nature? Importing açaí, not from man-made plantations, but straight from nature richest source; wild harvested açaí berries from Amazonia.


Açaí factory

Each açaí factory follows roughly the same processes for turning the açaí berries into frozen açaí pulp. The end result, however, in both taste profile and quality can be very different. The açaí berry is very sensitive and requires rigorous quality control and management by each açaí factory.

Açaí factory: turning açaí berries into frozen açaí pulp

Each açaí factory follows roughly the same processes for turning the açaí berries into frozen açaí pulp. The end result, however, in both taste profile and quality can be very different. The açaí berry is very sensitive and requires rigorous quality control and management by each açaí factory. We follow our products from beginning to end, ensuring that our customers receive the world’s finest açaí products.

Before açaí berries turn up in your açaí bowl, the berry has to undergo several processes. These different phases in each açaí factory can be roughly divided into:

 

  • Reception and weighing
  • Sanitization, first selection and softening 
  • Rinse, second selection and drainage
  • De-pulping
  • Filtration
  • Homogenization
  • Pasteurization
  • Packaging
  • Freezing
  • Storage

 

Because the berries spoils very fast it is essential that all these processes together do not last longer than 12 hours from the moment the berries are harvested.

 

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Reception and weighing of the fresh harvested açaí berries at the açaí factory

Most of the açaí does not come from plantations but is harvested from the wild by ribeirinhos. These are indigenous people living on the riverbanks of the Amazon region. After collecting the berries, the ribeirinhos sell them to the wholesalers (atravessadores) who then sell them to the açaí factory. During transport to the factory it is important that the freshly collected berries are not exposed directly to the sun. Açaí is sold in baskets called “latas” and each lata weighs approximately 14kg. The price of the lata is quoted on a daily basis according to supply and demand.

When the fresh açaí arrives at the açaí facility, they are weighted and the origin of the açaí is registered. Because the berries spoils very fast it is essential that the berries arrive not later than 24 hours at the açaí factory from the moment the berries are harvested. 

Sanitation, first selection and softening

Biological contaminants such as bacteria, viruses and fungi are present in air, water and soil. Because these organisms can affect human health it is important to disinfect the wild harvested açaí berries.  In general, 90% of the dirt is removed during this phase.

 

Depulping of the açaí berries at the açaí factory

Now that the berries are clean and removed of any dirt, the depulping of the berry in the açaí factory can start. This happens by means of friction between the berries (the edible layer of the açaí is only 1 to 2 mm thick). Specialized stainless steel machines with a vertical internal axis generate circular movements that separates the flesh of the berry from the kernel. Because the açaí berry is naturally very dry, water is used in this process. The purity of the frozen açaí pulp is determined here. The more water is used in this process, the less pure will be the açaí pulp. This number is expressed in the dry rate of açaí. Export quality of frozen açaí pulp should have at least a dry rate of 12% (açaí médio). The highest quality is açaí pulp is called açaí special and has a dry rate of minimum 14%. Each depulping machine in an açaí factory has a capacity to process around 100 – 200 liters of açaí pulp per day. A large açaí factory will therefor have the need the have several depulping machines.

Filtration

After depulping the açaí berries, the paste is filtered with sieves to remove any remaining material as a consequence of the depulping. For example the peel of the açaí berry or parts of the pits.

Homogenization

During this process the fat globules are broken up to such a small size that they remain suspended evenly rather than separating out and floating to the surface. The purpose of homogenization is making things uniform or similar. Homogenization is a physical process and not chemical and so nothing is added or taken away from the açaí.

Pasteurization of the açaí

For food safety most distributors outside Brazil require the açaí to be pasteurized. This is a heating process that kills so called pathogens. Pasteurization is a very delicate process as it interferes both with the color of the açaí and the taste itself. 

Packaging

The açaí pulp has now reached its final processing and is ready for consumption. The packaging machine at the açaí factory is directly connected to the homogenization / pasteurization equipment and is done fully automatically. The packaging for format is dependent on the demands of the final client. For exportation the most used packaging is 100 grams sachets that are used for the açaí bowls.

Freezing of the açaí pulp

Now that the açaí berries are depulped and packaged it is essential that the pulp is frozen as fast as possible to avoid contamination and / or deterioration of the product. Each açaí factory has a so called freezing tunnel where the açaí is put immediately after packaging. The temperature in this tunnel is around minus 30 degrees Celsius. After the açaí is frozen it is moved to a storage room with a temperature of minus 18 degrees Celsius.

Depending on whether is açaí pulp is pasteurized or not the expiry date of the açaí is 12 months or 24 months (with pasteurization).

For more info about importing açaí click here.

 

Açaí: an antioxidant-rich superfruit from the Amazon

What are free radicals?

Free radicals are unstable molecules with highly reactive ions. They are essential for some bodily processes and, in typical amounts, are balanced by antioxidants produced by the body itself.

However, free radicals are also produced by external factors related to lifestyle and the environment. Emotional stress, exposure to smoke, alcohol, excessive physical exercise, UV radiation from the sun and pollution can create an excess of free radicals. Diets in saturated fats, sugars and chemicals – such as preservatives, hormones and pesticide residues – also contribute to high free radicals levels.

Scientific studies demonstrate that antioxidants ingested through foods and beverages can supplement antioxidants produced by our own body, helping to counteract free radicals and reduce oxidative stress. With oxidative stress contained, cellular damage and its related disease states can be minimized.

What are antioxidants?

Antioxidants occur naturally in a wide range of fruits and vegetables. The broad class of substances that fight oxidative stress has four subsets. Açaí´s beneficial anthocyanins are part of the polyphenol group and its flavonoid subset.

Flavonoids are responsible for the color in fruits and vegetables. Of these, anthocyanins are the source of red to purple colors. There are more than 8,000 naturally occurring compounds in the flavonoids family. Anthocyanins occur in high concentration in açaí and are responsible for its beautiful color as well as the major part of its antioxidant power.

 

Açaí ain´t açaí: dry matter of açaí

The process of removing the flesh of the fruit from the pit will have a big influence on the purity and quality of the açaí. An açaí bowl with a high quality of açaí pulp can contain up to twice as much açaí relative to a bowl with lesser quality.

Quality of açaí pulp

For centuries local communities are aware of the nutritional and medicinal properties of the açaí berry that grows spontaneously and abundantly in the states of Pará, Amapá, Maranhão and eastern Amazonas. Because the açaí berry spoils very quickly, it is not possible to eat the berries fresh. Therefore, immediately after harvest the açaí berry is deeply frozen. However, before the açaí can be frozen, the pits should be removed. The açaí berry namely consists of almost 90% pit. And this is important to know because the process of removing the flesh of the fruit from the pit will have a big influence on the purity and quality of the açaí. An açaí bowl with a high quality of açaí pulp can contain up to twice as much açaí relative to a bowl with lesser quality.

Dry matter açaí

The edible layer of the açaí is only 1 to 2 mm thick. In order to remove this thin layer, the freshly harvested açaí berries will be the rolled against each other into a funnel. Because the açaí berry is naturally very dry run, water is used in the process whereby the açaí berries are changed into pulp. This percentage is expressed in the dry matter of açaí. The higher the dry matter, the less water is used and so the purer is the açaí pulp. It is the dry matter that determines the purity of the frozen açaí pulp.

There are three standardized quality levels for açaí pulp:

  • Açaí ´fino´ (C): low to medium dry matter (8% -11%).
  • Açaí ‘medio‘ (B): medium to high dry matter (11% – 14%).
  • Açaí ‘grosso‘ (A): a very high dry matter (> 14%),  also called ‘industrial quality’.

Often citric acid is used in açaí pulp as a natural preservative and anti-oxidant which influences the taste (lowers Ph). We offer our clients tailor made taste profiles.

For info about importing açaí from Brazil, click here.