Delicacies from the forest to the world
Frutos da Amazônia makes products including cupuaçu, açaí, taperebá and nut-based bonbons and biscuits. It supplies the high-end market in Brazil and is looking to increase its exports.
São Paulo – After conquering the prime retail niche in Brazil, company Frutos da Amazônia (Portuguese for Fruits of the Amazon) is looking to take its sustainably-made delicacies abroad. It turns flavors from the world’s biggest tropical rainforest into biscuits, bonbons, jellies, panettone, brigadeiro, and straws. The products are made from Amazonian fruits like cupuaçu, açaí, Brazil nut and taperebá, and their illustrated packaging taps into the imagery that enshrouds the woods, with messages about the Amazon river dolphin, the musician wren, the river, Yara the siren, and the frog Muiraquitã.
The São Paulo-based Frutos da Amazônia supplies some 50 different retail brands in Brazil, including high-end cafeterias, hotels and supermarket chains. About two years ago, the company realized it was time to branch out into other countries, and took the first steps in that direction by joining an exports project of the Brazilian Association of Industrialized Biscuit, Pasta and Bread & Cake Manufacturers (Abimapi).
Frutos da Amazônia CEO and founder Iolane Tavares explains that exports were made on occasion since then. Product got shipped to the United States, Germany, France and Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. The sale to the Arab country was made last year, for a cafeteria: three pallets’ worth of cupuaçu panettones, according to trade marketing executive Ana Paula Paura. The panettone is made with cupuaçu fruit pulp. “It’s the fruit flavor that suits the panettone cake the best,” says Paura.
The Arab market is one of the enterprise’s goals, along with Europe and the United States. “They are fond of colors and exotic flavors; Arabs are interested in the Amazon rainforest,” Paura explains. The brand’s items also get purchased by non-Brazilian tourists at the showroom adjoining the headquarters in São Paulo’s Vila Clementino district. Paura stresses that when it comes to other countries, the plan is to break into premier galleries and food services.
In order to expand locally and globally, Frutos da Amazônia plans on going to domestic and international exhibitions. The company’s getting ready to accommodate a new investor, which will mean a move to a bigger place, a shift from craftsmanship to automation, and therefore to a significant output increase.
A small business, it has also been picked for the Design Export program, whereby it will be able to revamp its packaging and its entire visual communication. The project is carried out by Centro Brasil Design and by the Brazilian Export and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex-Brasil), and it supports Brazilian businesses in developing export-oriented solutions involving innovation and product design.
On the cutting edge
Frutos da Amazônia was founded in the 1990s by Iolane Tavares, right after she moved from her native Pará to São Paulo. A Social Assistant by trade, she considered going into foodmaking, but she had a small child and was pregnant, so she had to postpone her plans. In the meantime, a friend taught her to make bonbons. A proud native of Pará and of the Amazon forest, she had products like cupuaçu, açaí, taperebá and bacuri lying around at home, so she decided to incorporate them into the bonbon recipes. “I loved making bonbons right away,” she says. After the occasional sale here and there, she decided to study the industry. She took a course from the Brazilian Micro and Small Business Support Service (Sebrae) and then she opened Frutos da Amazônia in 1994.
But it took a few years between getting started and finding major clients. “The flavors were too avant-garde for the time,” Tavares ponders. Brazil had just opened up to imported goods, so the people were all starry-eyed with those. Typically national, sustainable or Amazonian products didn’t sell much in the country. “I nearly gave up,” she says. But still she forged ahead, started making biscuits, then selling to emporiums, and a major Brazilian cafeteria chain.
Visibility increased, and a big jewelry store decided to serve up the goods to customers; a high-end supermarket chain followed suit. “I wanted to build a brand name,” Tavares explains on her mind frame from the get-go. She got invited by the government to events showcasing Brazilian products in other countries. “I knew I had potential, but I lacked the structure,” she claims. Once she decided to really bet on exportation, in 2014, Tavares went after training, commissioned market studies, and structured out her business towards that goal.
Close to the forest
Whether it expands in Brazil or overseas, whether big or small, the company plans on staying sustainable and forest-focused. From the start, it has sourced its Amazonian fruit from riverside communities in the state of Pará. These communities also craft some handmade packaging, such as the baskets that carry bonbons or the ceramic pottery for the panettones. The illustrations on the packaging are the designs of Joana Lira, a fine artist/graphic artist from Pernambuco.
The company works in partnership with Abimapi and Apex-Brasil, as part of an industry-specific project. Its products include bonbons made of cupuaçu, açaí, granola, taperebá and Brazil nut, nut-and-cheese straws; cupuaçu, taperebá and acai jelly; Brazil nut, cupuaçu and acai brigadeiro; nut and basil and nut and dried tomato pesto; dehydrated fruit mix; and nut biscuits. The items are available from the company’s website.
Frutos da Amazônia
Phone: +55 11 5571-4738
*Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum