New açaí factory project in Amapá expands investment opportunities in the Amazon

Interelos Institute completes delivery of sustainable agroindustry project to Amazonbai cooperative

O Interelos Institute took a significant step forward by delivering the final project of the new açaí processing factory in the State of Amapá, an initiative that aims to expand the cooperative's processing capacity amazonbai.

The need for a new factory arose from the growing demand from riverside producers in the Bailique and Beira Amazonas territories. Although they already have an agribusiness, their current production capacity, limited to 300 cans/day, is not enough to meet the supply of fruit. Hence the need to expand to a new factory with greater capacity. Surprisingly, even with these adversities, the agroindustry was able to set a processing record this past year. 

Thanks to the Inclusive Community Economies Program, funded by JBS Fund for the Amazon, it was possible to structure this project, with the aim of expanding the processing of açaí, experts from the Interelos Institute carried out extensive tests and analyzes of processing modeling to conclude that the existing area is limited and that new facilities would be necessary to make it compatible with production of the territories. Through the Amapá Agency, which promotes the economic development of the state, land was provided for the construction of the new factory in the industrial district in the municipality of Santana on the banks of AP 440, close to the Matapi River and the capital Macapá.

The project is now in the regularization and fundraising phase, with implementation expected to take approximately one year. It is expected that, with the new factory, it will be possible to process up to 28 tons of açaí fruits daily, meeting growing demand and further boosting the local economy.

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Much more than a factory

The new factory will be equipped with state-of-the-art technology, following the standards of major market leaders in this segment, aimed at producing açaí pulp, sorbet and freeze-dried açaí (powder). The cooperative amazonbai, known for its sustainable management of organic açaí, is committed to ensuring that its producers benefit from the project. Renata Barros, Interelos consultant and agricultural and environmental engineer, shared her perspectives on the factory’s impact: 

“We are working to ensure that members fully understand the project, from choosing equipment to how the relationship with suppliers works. We want them to take over 100% of the operation. That is our purpose.”

Renata Barros

One of the most impressive features of the project is that the factory will be next to the future Technological Center for research and development of innovative technologies for the açaí industry, such as açaí coffee and plywood panels made from waste seeds, giving sustainable use to these resources, previously discarded. Furthermore, the idea is that the seed will also be used in the factory's boiler to produce heat for the pasteurizer and also for the freeze-drying process.

The introduction of Amapá's first industrial-scale freeze-drying equipment is a major innovation that will allow the production of açaí powder throughout the year. Making the cooperative more competitive in the market: 

“We hope that the factory will increase the quality of the product, making it easier to ship and reach other markets.”

Renata Barros

O Interelos Institute has been a fundamental partner for the amazonbai, mainly by helping it to see new markets and in the search for the best production technologies. Joint work has been crucial for the implementation and operation of the agroindustry, providing more opportunities for growth and development for the region.

Ezequiel Barbosa, Amazonbai member and supervisor of the new factory, highlights the importance of support for the continued growth of the cooperative: 

“Interelos has been helping us access financial support, facilitate our connection with external partners, and also in the development of new technologies, which ended up being crucial for the agroindustry. Without Interelos, we would find it immensely difficult, especially in how to get started. All the study done to start operating was very important.”

“There will come a time when Interelos will leave and we will need to stand on our own two feet, so we need to absorb as much as we can before then.” 

Ezequiel Barbosa
Renata Barros delivers the project to Amiraldo Picanço, president of Amazonbai, and cooperative members.

A long-term project 

Anyone who sees cooperative members dreaming big cannot imagine how distant the previous reality was. Ezequiel, who graduated from the first class of the technical course at Escola Família do Bailique, tells us that the difficulties were many:

“It’s difficult to live in the countryside and not have opportunities, the only opportunities we have are in the areas of education and health. When the cooperative emerged, many young people did not even believe that it would be possible to provide other employment opportunities. When they saw the first students getting jobs, they were optimistic about the possibility of working in another area and thus earning good money, being able to grow, develop financially and professionally in areas in which they already work daily. Because every young person in Amapá knows how to harvest açaí and having an area where you can work with what you love most is priceless, they are just waiting for an opportunity.”

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Since 2015, Escola Família do Bailique has graduated three classes, and the tendency is for these graduates to find a place in the cooperative. With the expectation of growth in amazonbai, the expansion of sales to international markets and the increase in production, a series of new opportunities are revealed. The possibility of establishing factory branches in different locations, as well as diversifying products, creates a growing demand for labor. This is not just limited to açaí management, but also encompasses administrative, marketing and communication functions. The hope and enthusiasm are palpable, and reflect the desire of many local residents: 

“Our parents are there in nature and they want their children to stay close and get a job in the field too, that's priceless. We dream big and we hope that this dream will come true.”

Ezequiel Barbosa

The impact of this investment is broad and goes beyond financial gains, it translates into development and education for territories very far from urban centers. The onslaught is not only an important milestone for the state of Amapá, but a significant advance for Brazil and the world.

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