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The Euterpe oleracea or more commonly known as the Acai Palm is in high demand across the world (Carter, 2008). This massive palm can range anywhere in height from 20-25 meters tall and ranges in diameter from four to six inches (Mcafee, 2008). The palm has many trunks and many more branches that can produce four to eight bunches of Acai berries throughout the entire year (Mcafee, 2008). The berry itself is very small, only about one inch wide and can range in color from dark blue to deep brown (Mcafee, 2008). The Acai palm tree is found growing only deep in the heart of the Amazon (Hubpages, 2010). Many scientists have attempted to grow the palm outside of the Amazon, but soon discovered that the berry does not retain all of its nutrients as well as it does if it is growing in the Amazon(Mega-Foods et all, 2008). This is because the Amazon provides the best environmental conditions for the palm to grow in. The dense and sparsely-lit jungle has swampy regions which are perfect for the Acai palm to thrive and flourish in (Mega-Foods et all, 2008).




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Figure 1. This is how the Acai berries look like (Acai berry basket 2009).

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Figure 2. An Acai palm that is ready for harvesting (Acai berry tree. 2010).



Product

Over the past few years the Acai plant has become a massive hit all across the world. Specifically, it is the Acai berry that is in constant demand by consumers all around the world. The secret for its growing demands is found inside the berry. Scientists claim the Acai berry to be a mega-food (Walters, 2009). The reason for that is because the Acai berry offers more amounts of antioxidants than any other plant in the world. Not only that, but the berry also contains unusually high levels of minerals such as magnesium and potassium (Carter, 2008). It has also been found to effectively help people lose a significant amount of weight. The main reason however is that in recent studies, the Acai berry extract caused leukemia cells to self-destruct about 86% of the time in a culture (Walters, 2009). Judging by the magnitude of these results, the Acai berry is continues to grow demand all over the world. The Acai berry comes in the disguise of many products such as frozen yogurts, ice creams, gourmet chocolates, energy drinks and weight-loss pills.


Making the Product

Despite the many Acai berry products that our found in our market today, for the benefit of this project, we will be focusing on how the Acai berry is transformed into energy drinks.


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Figure 3 The making of Acai Energy Drinks






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Figure 4. This above picture illustrates more thoroughly how the berry is transported to the plantations after being harvested (Acai boat, 2009).





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Figure 5. This is the finished product of the Acai berries (Zola, 2010)



Beneficial Impacts

Since it was introduced to the international market a few years ago, the Acai berry has made a massive impact on the health industry. The reason for this is because the berry offers a growing list of health benefits for everyone. For teenagers, it contains vitamins that can conquer acne, reduce skin inflammation and give you a youthful radiant glow(PlanetBerry et al, 2006). For people with weak immune systems, it enhances your immune systems and prevents you from contracting illnesses such as the common cold or flu (PlanetBerry et al, 2006). Hoards of people across the world rush to buy products from the Acai berry since it helps maintain a metabolism and help you loose weight (PlanetBerry et al, 2006). People of all ages, from across the globe are increasingly stating to use products from the Acai berry. The Acai berry has so far been good news to everyone. For scientists it holds the potential to end cancer or, at least curing it. For health conscience consumers, it allows them to get their daily recommended dosages of essential vitamins and minerals.



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Table 1.The above picture shows the level of Antioxidants of the Acai berry compared to other common fruits("Orac chart," 2008). This chart illustrates the sheer amount of antioxidants found in one small Acai berry is far more higher than that of Blueberries.



The economy of Brazil and other countries neighboring the Amazon has exploded since the Acai berry came into light a few years ago. The high demand for this berry not only helped the indigenous people that call the Amazon rainforest their home, but also the entire nation as well. It attracted companies and investors from different countries to come and take part of the booming Acai market. Some scientists claim that the Acai berry holds the potential to everyone’s well being, which of course is beneficial to society. The Acai berry replaced many of the energy drinks that were available in the market. Consumers are now more attracted to the products that contain the berry, rather than other pills or drinks the store may have to offer. Many companies now scramble to add a portion of Acai in their products to appeal consumers into buying their merchandise. Also the Acai berry has affected the market of weight-loss supplements. Many people find the natural benefits that come with using the Acai berry for weight-loss a lot more appealing than using other products the market has to offer. We live in a time where there are a growing number of health conscious consumers looking for ways to improve the quality of their lives. The products from the Acai berry seem to be the answer for many of them.



Harmful Impacts

Does the Acai berry sound too good to be true? Well, as of now, it is too early to answer that question. Scientists have not fully researched the Acai berry yet. In fact, the berry contains 50% unidentified compounds, and this is one reason why scientists are uncertain how these compounds affect the human body (Carter, 2008). In addition to that, the berries are only found growing deep inside the Amazon rain forest. Scientists have attempted to grow the Acai Palm outside of the Amazon, but found out that berry does not retain all of its nutritional values as it would have has it grown in the Amazon ("Acai (açaí) ," 2008).

Another problem is that Acai berries spoil very fast. So much so, that within 24 hours of being harvested, the berries loose all of their nutritional values (Carter, 2008). Their extremely perishable nature doesn’t allow the berry to be researched well enough or to be eaten fresh by consumers. Companies have to set up plantations near by Acai Palm groves in order to be able to harvest them quickly and flash freeze them before their 24 hour time limit is up. Some companies are less caring about the forest than others, and usually cut down the graceful palm trees when harvesting season arrives. As a result of their carelessness, the indigenous people that have been relying on the Acai berry as a major food source for centuries are severely impacted. Not only that, but rapid deforestation also affects the habitat of the native animal species, and on a whole the entire planet. Many companies also underpay their agricultural workers for the labor that they do.


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Figure 6. An add warning people about the "Free Trail" scams ("Acai berry scams ," 2009)



Finally, the craze to get products that contain the Acai berry has affected consumers. Many companies rarely sell pure 100% Acai berry products since it is expensive to obtain the berries. Instead, companies often add many other ingredients to their drinks and pills, most of which are harmful to humans (Mega-Foods et all, 2008). The companies then overcharge people for their products and the consumer don’t really get an idea of exactly what percentage of their product is actually Acai berry. Also, many companies are claim that their product contains the Acai berry’s seed. They implement that the seed has healthy properties when in fact it doesn’t. In addition to that, there have been countless people scammed by online Acai advertisements claiming to give consumers a “free trial” of their products. As a consumer, you have to thoroughly investigate the product which you are considering purchasing and decide for yourself whether it is legit or not.


At the moment, the only other products that pose even the slightest threat to the Acai berry are products from the Goji Berry. Like the Acai berry, the Goji berry also offers many of health benefits. Although the Acai berry offers a lot more anti-oxidants than any other food in the world (Mcafee, 2008), most it’s nutritional values are lost during the process of making products with it. Not only that, but the Goji berries can be purchased in raw form while the Acai berry is only available in forms of beverages, powders or supplements. In conclusion, these factors pose a threat to the strong Acai market..



Conclusion

The Acai berry is a super food. Its benefits are incomparable to any other fruit in the world, which is why it is so popular.This plant has brought fame to the Amazon and its indigenous people. The berry offers hope to us in terms of combating cancer. This graceful tall plant is mysterious and is not fully understood since it has not been researched thoroughly yet. The Acai plant has found its niche on the competitive weight-loss market that we have today and is in no hurry to leave it. It is no wonder the people of the Amazon call the Acai berry the “Blue Diamond”. This gem of a plant has been consumed by the indigenous tribes of the Amazon for hundreds of years, and has only brought them strength, health and immunity to the harsh climate of the Amazon (Hubpages, 2010). One can only wonder what this small miracle has to offer the modern world.


Additional Information & Facts

Did you know...?

- The Acai berry is said to have a slight subtle aftertaste of chocolate (Mcafee, 2008)

-The grape is the cousin of the Acai berry (Hubpages, 2010).

-The Acai palm grow at a very rapid rate. They start producing berries at the age of four to five years old

- The word Acai is pronounced "Ah-sigh-eeh"

-The tribes of the Amazon have a legend of the Acai berry,

Click the link to read it

http://www.acaiberryplanet.com/the-history-of-acai-berry.html

--As a side note, if you would like more infomation on how the Acai berry, I have provided some video links that might interest you










List of References


Web Pages

Acai (açaí) . (2008). Retrieved from http://www.acaiberryproducts.org/Acai/
Carter, A.J.C. (2008). Acai berry cancer research . Retrieved from http://ezinearticles.com/?
Acai-Berry-Cancer-Research&id=1725069
Hubpages, . (2010). Acai berry information69 . Retrieved from http://hubpages.com/hub/Acai-Berry-Information
Mcafee, K.M. (2008). Goji berries versus acai berries . Retrieved from http://www.buzzle.com/articles/goji-berries-versus-acai-berries.html
Monavie, . (2010). How are acai berries grown, harvested and processed?. Retrieved from http://www.acaiberryinfo.org/what-is-acai-berry.html
PlanetBerry, Initials. (2006). Benefits of the acai berry . Retrieved from http://www.planetberries.com/benefits-of-the-acai-berry.html
S.W. (2009). Study shows acai berries may kill cancer cells. Retrieved from http://www.naturalnews.com/025403_acai_cancer_berries.html



Pictures



Acai berry 77. (2010). [Web]. Retrieved from http://hubpages.com/hub/Acai-Berry-2

Acai berry basket. (2009). [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.get-pure-acai.com/images/Acai-Boat.jpg

Acai-berry-brazill. (2010). [Web]. Retrieved from http://windsorlegiontrack.com/menuold/search/acai-berries-brazilian.html

Acai-berry-harvest. (2010). [Web]. Retrieved from http://windsorlegiontrack.com/menuold/search/acai-berries-brazilian.html

Acai berry scams . (2009). [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.acaiberryscams.org.uk

Acai smoothie. (2009). [Web]. Retrieved from http://unlostwanderer.wordpress.com/page/2/

Acai berry tree. (2010). [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.acaiberryfordiet.com/images/acai-berry-tree.jpg

Acai boat. (2009). [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.get-pure-acai.com/images/Acai-Boat.jpg

Acai-workers. (2008). [Web]. Retrieved from http://healthproductreview.org/tag/acai-supplement/

Buy-acai-berry-fruit. (2010). [Web]. Retrieved from http://windsorlegiontrack.com/menuold/search/buy-best-acai.html

Energy sampler. (2010). [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.lose-weight-with-us.com/acai-berry-drink.html

Orac chart. (2008). [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.acaiberrystudies.com/acai-berry-and-cancer.html

Zola, Initials. (Photographer). (2010). Zola smoothie. [Web]. Retrieved from http://dealnay.com/153748/zola-brazilian-superfruits-daily-wellness-shot-32-servings-32-ounce-bottle.html




Videos


Corso, S.C. (Photographer). (2009). Video about the acai berry from brazil. by sal corso . [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCyUhfZVIT0&feature=player_embedded


Oprah, W.O. (Producer). (2008). Acai berry facts - featured on oprah lose weight with acai
. [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCu1oALQ4c8&feature=player_embedded