Açaí: Complete Guide to All You Need to Know

Did you know that the açaí berry is considered a superfood? Açaí berries are fruits high in nutrients and vitamins that have amazing benefits for people’s health, such as fighting constipation and infections and even reducing cholesterol.

In this opportunity, we won’t only share with you the properties of the açaí, but also its characteristics, types, the industry around this fruit in the world, its cultivation, and much more.

What is açaí and what are its characteristics? 

Scientific name of the most common speciesEuterpe Oleracea Martius and Euterpe Precatoria Martius
Common nameAçaí
Place of originSouth America
HabitatHumid forests susceptible to periodic flooding.
DistributionIt grows mainly in the Amazon region of Brazil, in the Pacific and the Amazon of Colombia, in Loreto and Ucayali in Peru. And it can also be found in Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana.
FruitBerries mostly purple or red.

The açaí palm is a tree native to South America that grows mainly in the Amazon region of this continent. There are about 28 species of this palm, but only two are commercialized: Euterpe Oleracea and Euterpe Precatoria. The Euterpe Oleracea species is one of the most valuable since its fruits have the highest quality and are the most traded in the world market.

Characteristics of the açaí tree 

The palm’s stem can reach 30 meters tall and 12 to 18 centimeters in diameter. It can also have up to 45 stems during its different growth stages; it’s very rare that the tree has only one stem.

Its roots are reddish and superficial; they are found in the first 30 to 40 centimeters of the soil. They can extend from 3 to 3.5 meters in three-year-old palms, and can reach up to 6 meters in ten-year-old palms.

The physiology of the roots allows the seeds and plants to live for 16 to 20 days in an environment with little or no oxygen.

What does açai look like? 

The palm fruit is known as açaí and has been consumed in the Amazon since pre-Columbian times. Its fruit is berries, that is, they are rounded and have pulp around their seed.  

Açaí berries are 1 to 2 centimeters in diameter and can weigh from 0.5 to 2.8 grams.

The seed represents about 80 to 95% of the fruit and the edible pulp measures 1 to 2 millimeters.

A palm can produce 3 to 8 racemes (a fruit cluster attached to a single axis) in its different stages of growth.

The 7 types of açaí you need to know  

Currently, there are 7 types of açaí that are naturally formed and are differentiated by their color, ripening level, the branching of their clusters, their weight, among other characteristics. It’s worth mentioning that the purple or common açaí berries are the most commercialized, given that they are the most abundant in the Amazon.

Purple or common AçaíCharacterized by its red or purple color. It’s the most predominant in the Amazon region.
Açaí tingaThe word tinga comes from a Brazilian Indian tribe and is a native name meaning “without color”, that is, these berries are green or white.
Açaí chumbinhoIt’s identified by its small berries weighing only 1 gram. They can be purple or white.
White AçaíThey are opaque green, characteristic of the white layer that surrounds them when ripe. These berries are rare in the Amazon region.
Açaí açuThese berries are characterized by being large and heavy; a bunch can weigh up to 15 kilograms. However, the palms only give 3 to 5 bunches of this type of açaí. Their flavor is stronger than the common or purple berries, and they have more pulp. The production of this type of fruit is reduced since this event is quite rare.
Açaí Espada (sword)It’s different from the other types because its bundles have primary, secondary, and tertiary branches.
Açaí sangre de buey (ox blood)Its name derives from the fact that the berries of this type are red in color, resembling ox blood.

Properties and benefits of açaí berries 

Nutritional profile of açaí berries 

These small fruits contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants able to nourish and energize our bodies.

Below, we show you a nutritional table extracted from an açaí product from the Colombian company Corpocampo, so you’ll have a clear vision of all the properties of this fruit.

It’s worth clarifying that whether we have a different product made from açaí or a specific amount of the fruit without any industrial process, the nutritional information will be different and will vary.

Product nutritional information: Corpocampo organic açaí pulp 
Serving: 1 package (100g)
Serving per container: 4
Amount per servingAmount% Diary value*
Fat calories50 
Total fat5g9%
Saturated fat1.5g7%
Monounsaturated fat3.5g 
Trans fats0g 
Omega 93.5g 
Total Carbohydrate4g1%
Dietary fiber4g16%
A Vitamin 52%
C Vitamin 0%
Iron 4%
Calcium 0%

In any case, açaí is recognized as a superfood so let’s see why.

Energy contribution 

Did you know that açaí is used by high-performance athletes? This fruit has a high level of calories, which makes it have a high energetic contribution, being ideal for consumption as it has fewer negative effects than coffee, and even provides more energy.


The açaí contains 16 amino acids, so it is a quality protein. Amino acids are important in the diet because they help the human body to form proteins in order to help the body break down food, repair body tissues, grow, provide energy to the body, and carry out many other functions.

Less cholesterol 

On the other hand, açaí berries are rich in omega 3, 6, and 9. This makes it surprisingly rich in fatty acids for a fruit. In fact, the nutritional profile of these healthy fats can help reduce cholesterol in the blood in a natural way; in addition to the fact that omega-6 promotes the correct absorption and transport of different nutrients in the human being.

Goodbye constipation 

If you have constipation problems or don’t digest food well, you should consume açaí. Both the peel and the pulp contain a high content of soluble and insoluble fiber, which helps the body fight against these annoying digestive problems.


Açaí berries are vitamin-rich fruits containing vitamins A, B, C, E, and B complex, as well as minerals such as potassium, zinc, magnesium, iron, and calcium. As a result, all these vitamins make it fruit with remineralizing action in the body.

Antioxidant effect 

Açaí has a high antioxidant capacity, therefore, it helps to fight free radicals and superoxides. These antioxidant properties help to inhibit or decrease the oxidation processes in the body caused by free radicals.

Let me explain, when the human body doesn’t have enough capacity to control free radicals, the body oxidizes more than it should, causing negative health effects such as obesity, immune system dysfunction, and cardiovascular diseases, among others.

It contains an excellent antioxidant called anthocyanin that dilates blood vessels, which helps stimulate the brain and reduce the risk of cardiovascular accidents.

Açaí is twice as antioxidant as blueberries and 10 times more than red grapes. If you want to take advantage of these benefits, by consuming just 6 to 10 grams of this fruit a day you can cover your body’s daily antioxidant requirements.

It fights infections 

Açaí also contains a polyphenol called ellagic acid; polyphenols help preserve the body’s cellular function and structure, and fight free radicals, preventing different health conditions. This gives the açaí another advantage, being able to fight viruses and bacteria, thus helping to increase the body’s defenses.

The myth you didn’t know about açaí 

The word “açaí” comes from Tupi, an indigenous language native to Brazil, and can be translated as “fruit that cries”. In fact, there is a whole legend that explains the origin of this fruit and its name.

According to the legend, long ago an indigenous tribe lived in the north of Brazil, and the number of inhabitants was high, so it became more and more difficult to feed everyone every day. For this reason, the chieftain made a radical decision: from that moment on, all the children born would be sacrificed to control the population increase.

However, this decision affected his own daughter named Iaça, who gave birth to a girl that unfortunately had to be sacrificed by the rule imposed by the cacique.

Iaça was devastated by her precious daughter’s death so she decided to ask an indigenous divinity to help her father find a different solution to control the population growth without sacrificing any children.

In the midst of her sadness, Iaça wandered through the jungle and, at one point, saw the image of her deceased daughter. She ran to hold her but she vanished from her arms. The next day, the cacique found Iaça hugging a palm tree that had small fruits.

The cacique then resolved to use the fruits of the palm to appease the hunger of his tribe. It is said that the cacique wanted to pay tribute to his daughter, and for that reason, he inverted her name and called the palm “açaí”.  

Açaí industry in the world 

The açai industry is growing and more and more products are being made from this fruit. In this section, you’ll learn about the major producers and consumers of this Amazonian fruit.

Countries that produce the most açaí 

1. Brazil, the pioneer in açaí harvests 

Açaí is a worldwide fever and Brazil is its main protagonist. This Latin American country is the world’s largest producer of açaí thanks to the abundance of açaí berries in the northern region.

According to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IGBE), in 2020, Brazil produced 1’478,168 tons of açaí and its production value was 4’754,806 thousand reais, which is equal to about 925 thousand US dollars.

The three states that produce the most açaí are (IGBE 2020):

PositionBrazil stateTons of açaí produced


The state of Para accounts for 95% of the country’s açaí production; this percentage is distributed as follows:

60% is distributed within the state itself, as Brazil, besides being the largest producer, is also one of the largest consumers worldwide.

35% is imported to other regions of the country.

The remaining 5% is exported to other parts of the world.

2. Açaí in Colombia 

Colombia is the second largest producer of açaí, after Brazil, and interest in this fruit is growing each day. Producers foresee the potential in the international market.

Currently, the company Corpocampo is the largest producer of açaí in the country, with 5,000 hectares cultivated. Also, the fruit harvested from the crops is processed in the three manufacturing plants located in the departments of Cauca, Nariño, and Putumayo.

Of this company’s total açaí production per year, 98% is exported to countries in North America, Europe, Asia, and Oceania, and the remaining 2% is distributed in different regions of the country.


Corpocampo, besides being the country’s largest producer, is an organization that supports the indigenous and Afro-Colombian populations of the Colombian Pacific, encouraging them to replace illicit coca crops with legal açaí crops that represent a profitable income for the families and women heads of household who work with the association.

Top 10 top açaí consuming countries 

Below, you’ll find the top 10 countries that consume açaí the most according to the series of reports made by the Brazilian news portal G1 in its 2018 series “Açaí Pathways” (Values in US$).

  1. The United States is one of the primary consumers of açaí, receiving about 40% of the fruit exported by Brazil. The value of its imports in 2018 was US$ 2.7 million.
  2. Japan is the second country that consumes this food the most, importing around 900 thousand dollars dated from the year 2018.
  3. Australia is the third consumer of this fruit; however, the value of its imports declined from 2.7 million dollars in the year 2017 to 700 thousand dollars in the year 2018.
  4. Germany, on the other hand, increased the value of its imports from 215 thousand dollars in the year 2017 to 633 thousand dollars in the year 2018.
  5. Belgium imported a value of 334 thousand US dollars.
  6. Singapore imported the equivalent of 292 thousand dollars.
  7. France imported more than 232 thousand dollars.
  8. China had a large increase in the value of its imports, they imported about 45 thousand dollars in 2017 and increased this value to more than 190 thousand dollars in 2018.
  9. The Netherlands also imported 190 thousand dollars just like China.
  10. And, finally, Portugal imported 178 thousand dollars.

How is açaí cultivated? 


Being a native palm of the Amazon, this species is grown in the same or similar climates to this region, i.e. warm and humid climates. The optimum temperature for the crops is 26°C, ideally a minimum of 22°C and a maximum of 31.5°C.

The climate should also be relatively humid, with air humidity ranging from 71% to 91%. Likewise, rainfall is a highly important factor for the cultivation of açaí, the annual rainfall for the region where açaí is to be cultivated should be 1,300mm minimum and 3,000mm maximum.

Generally, these palms can be grown in tropical rainforests, in areas that are prone to periodic flooding. It can also be grown in high forests without flooding but in a humid and rainy climate.


The ideal soil for growing the açaí fruiting palm can vary due to the unique characteristics of its roots, which survive low or no oxygen levels.

Therefore, it can be grown in soils rich or poor in organic matter. In either case, it is recommended that the soil be firm to facilitate handling, harvesting, and transport.

Açaí Reproduction 

The palms that produce açaí berries can be propagated in two ways: first, by using seeds, and secondly, by using the shoots that grow from the palm’s root.

The first technique is the most widely practiced because of its speed and efficiency. Seeds can germinate about 22 days after being sown. However, they must be in a constantly humid environment to be successfully harvested, because of their low tolerance to desiccation.

The second technique is not commonly used on a commercial scale, because the sprouts that germinate from the roots must be transplanted into optimal soil for growth, thus increasing labor and production costs.

In either case, the final planting of the palms should be done during periods of high rainfall for more successful growth.

Transplantation to the field is done after 4 to 5 months when the palms are 20 to 30 centimeters high. Each palm can germinate between 4 to 8 shoots, therefore, each plant should have at least 4 meters distance from the other.

Açaí berries 

The first bunches of açaí berries can be obtained from the fourth year after planting the palms. This period can be reduced depending on the care given to the tree, so it can reach its reproductive stage in two and a half years. This plant bears fruit all year round, but flowers and fruits more in the months of June and September.

According to the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (2017), harvesting must be done by the traditional method, that is, people climb up the palm stem and cut the bunches.

Post-harvest and conservation 

After harvesting, the açaí berries must be treated by removing all impurities, then stored in baskets made of vegetable fibers or in plastic boxes of 15 to 30 kilograms.

The fruits must be kept out of direct sunlight and stored at temperatures around 10°C to prolong post-harvest life. For long-distance transport, it’s recommended to transport them in cold storage or to pack the fruits in polypropylene bags covered with ice.

Products made from açaí 

Artisanal food products 

The people of the Amazon region love this extraordinary fruit that characterizes their place of origin, so every year they celebrate the return of the açaí harvest. There are different artisanal products made from this fruit that can be found mainly in the regions or areas where açaí is grown.

This form is preferred by the native people of the harvesting areas; some handmade products are:

  • Jams
  • Sweets
  • Liqueurs
  • Ice creams
  • Filled chocolates
  • Candies
  • Among others.

For example, the state of Pará in Brazil is one of the largest consumers of this fruit since they use it almost in all their meals which may seem strange to people from other states that don’t consume it as often as the people of Pará.

Industrial food products 

On the other hand, the açaí is becoming more and more known in the world market for its properties and benefits for the body. Thus, industries around the world have different products based on this fruit.  

Most of the industries in Brazil and abroad obtain the pulp of frozen açaí, and from there they work in the development of different products such as:

  • Energy drinks
  • Cereal bars
  • Smoothies
  • Chewing gums
  • Ice creams
  • Chocolates
  • Wine
  • Vodka
  • Tequila
  • Among others.

Cosmetic products 

Surprisingly, the açaí is used in the cosmetics industry as well. This fruit yields an oil with emollient properties, rich in antioxidants and vitamins, which gives softness, moisture, and hydration to the skin.

For example, the company Natura&Co is a Brazilian multinational of cosmetics and beauty and hygiene products. This company uses açaí oil in the product line called Natura Ekos Açaí. Some of its products are:

  • Soaps
  • Shower gels
  • Body lotions
  • Shower oils
  • Perfumes
  • Hand creams
  • Body milk
  • Among others

In conclusion, this fruit embodies the heart of the entire Amazon region. It’s fundamental not only for the economy of the region but also for the Amazonian people’s culture and society. Açaí is a fruit with extreme potential that has become, in the last 10 years, a superfood known and desired for all its extraordinary properties.

We hope this article helps you to start consuming more açaí in order to get the most out of its potential.