The sights, sounds and exotic tastes of the Amazon rainforest colored the Açaimania stand at the SIAL trade show in Paris, where CEO/Co-founder Peter Matuska and his Bratislava, Slovakia-headquartered company’s sales and marketing team were enthusiastically promoting Açaico products from October 19-23. Their growing range of antioxidant- and omega acids-rich açai berry-based frozen offerings – which now number 35 – includes low-fat, probiotic-laden Mooo! Yogurt in 180- and 450-ml containers, 55-ml Açaico Ice Bars (also known as Amazon Ice Bombs, they feature açai marrow covered with milk chocolate), and three kinds of 200-gram juice blends: Açaico Natural Açai Berry Superfruit, Açai Strawberry and Açai-Mango blends.
Matuska and partner Andej started the company after getting the idea for a product line while on holiday in Brazil, where they were introduced to the energy-boosting effects and other attributes of the fruit by the owner of a surf camp in Sao Miguel do Gostosco. When the vacation was over, they checked a container of frozen açai pulp as well as their baggage with the air carrier and then promptly began formulating value-added product marketing strategies while winging it back home.
Today the organic, chemical-free Açaimania assortment of frozen, refrigerated, shelf-stable, beverage and dry powder (including tablets) products are stocked by leading European retail chains, among them Tesco, Metro, REWE, Kaufland and Ahold. Some of the offerings have made it to the menus of restaurants, cafes and bars in Europe.
Describing the dark purple açai berry’s flavor and aroma as a combination of chocolate and berries, Matuska said: “Our goal is contribute to the improvement of dietary habits of consumers and to help them maintain a better lifestyle.”
Açai fruit, which like blueberries is regarded as a “superfood” among many health enthusiasts, is loaded with fatty acids that aid the absorption of essential vitamins A, D, E and K. It is also rich in amino acids, which combined with fatty acids enhance muscle function and burn fat more efficiently.
Furthermore, citing Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) data, Açaimania rates açai as “the most powerful natural antioxidant in the world.” The company points out that 100 grams of pure extract contain up to 70,000 ORAC, which is said to be “the highest value of all food tested.”
“Açaico pulp mixture, consisting of berries blended with guarana syrup, is a frozen miracle,” according to Matuska. “This original Brazilian recipe combines the nutritional advantages of açai fruit with the known stimulant effects of guarana. A 200-gram package contains a nutritionally balanced blend that can be mixed with different kinds of fruit or oat flakes. It is suitable for mixing with juice, or when preparing any other food or dessert.”
That’s Not All, Folks!
Among other interesting fruit products seen at the Paris food fair were those of SIAL Innovation Award winner Nice Fruit of Castellbisbal, Spain. The company took the prize in the Foodservice sector for improving a manufacturing process to better retain nutrients and maintain texture, flavor and vitamin content at optimal levels for up to three years. Pineapple, melon, orange, strawberry, avocado and mango are offered in 5- and 10-kilo bags.
Island Way Breakfast Apple from Dynamic Commodities Pty Ltd of Port Elizabeth, South Africa, made it to the final round of the SIAL Innovation Awards competition. The frozen product features a half-apple topped with granola. Judges liked the fact that the apple cup is edible, thus not adding to the waste stream.
Ooigem, Belgium-based Crop’s NV introduced Mélange de Fruits Sangria, a convenience mix packed in 500-gram bags. It too was selected as a finalist in the SIAL Innovation Awards competition, as was Mini Curd Berlinger Balls with Filling from Marijampole, Lithuania-headquartered Mantinga UAB. The fried doughnut balls feature fruit filling and are distributed in single-serve packaging designed for consumers to eat while on the go. – Reported by John Saulnier