The açai berry will be brought to Europe thanks to an exclusive agreement between Fruits of the Amazon and UK distributor JO Sims.Açai berries (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) have long formed part of the staple diet of Indian tribes. With the appearance of a purple grape and taste of a tropical berry, it has been shown to have powerful antioxidant properties thanks to a high level of anthocyanins, pigments that are also present in red wine.
It is presently being sold in New Zealand, Australia, South America, Japan, USA, and the Middle East.
Jon Wisniewski, general manager of Fruits of the Amazon, which has its headquarters in Auckland, New Zealand, said that the appointment of JO Sims is "a significant milestone on our march to expose other markets to the wealth of natural and functional products from the Amazon."
JO Sims general manager Doug Mackay said: "Our unrivalled knowledge of the UK ingredients market and extensive customer base means we are well positioned to introduce food and drink manufacturers to the benefits of using this exotic, healthy fruit."
A spokesperson for the company told NutraIngredients.com that the main application will be in healthy beverages.
In Europe exotic fruits are becoming increasingly popularly. According to Datamonitor they contributed significantly to a growth rate of 26 per cent for the European organic food industry between 2001 and 2004.
"Exotic fruits, which combine the perceived authenticity and flavour intensity benefits of ethnic foods with the health and quality benefits of premium fruit, are set to grow in future years, driven by consumers' desire for greater healthiness, authenticity and flavour," said Datamonitor analyst John Band.