New Brazilian açai factory set to boost supplies to US market

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition, Amino acid

Leading açai berry supplier Sambazon has completed the construction
of a new manufacturing facility in Brazil, a move that is set to
significantly increase the volumes of the berry brought into the
US.

The popularity of the antioxidant-high Brazilian berry has surged in the past year, but market growth has so far been stunted by limited supply.

Indeed, according to natural food group SunOpta, "you can sell everything you can get your hands on today."

The growing demand has occurred on the back of the fruit's unique health benefits, as well as a more adventurous consumer palate, which increasingly seeks new, 'exotic' flavors and ingredients.

Harvested by hand and processed within 24 hours from the Amazon in Brazil, the açai berry has the highest antioxidants of any fruit in the world. Antioxidants are compounds that may help inhibit premature aging, heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer disease by neutralizing free radicals.

The berry also provides a blend of essential amino acids along with a high level of omega fatty acids and vitamins.

According to Sambazon, which claims to be the leading global supplier of the fruit, its new facility will solidify its position as leading vertically integrated manufacturer and marketer of organic, fair trade açai products.

"Vertical integration enables us to ensure that our products are made with the highest standards of quality, nutrition and taste, while maintaining competitive pricing," said the firm's founder and chief executive officer Ryan Black.

"Our new factory is a key milestone on our mission to produce the highest quality raw material and consumer goods that promote sustainable management of the Brazilian Amazon- which is what our company stands for with the acronym SAMBAZON," he added.

The company said its açai business model ultimately benefits thousands of small family farmers and protects the biodiversity of the rainforest. Its efforts in the Amazon were recently recognized by the Ashoka Organization with the Global Social Entrepreneurship award for market driven strategies that benefit low income communities.

Its new facility will allow the company to increase much wanted supplies of the berry to major customers such as SunOpta. On the back of an increased availability of the berry, SunOpta last week announced that it will quadruple its açai business to around $4m over the next year.

The açai frozen pulp is sold to food manufacturers as an ingredient in fruit juices, smoothie blends, and soy and dairy applications such as sorbets. According to SunOpta, the berry has become the most sought-after fruit in its portfolio.

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