Açaí has taken wholesome snacking to a complete new stage. Its berries are filled with antioxidants, fibre, heart-healthy fat and calcium that not solely help in having a wholesome, balanced food plan, however look superb in your smoothie bowls for the proper Instagram publish.
More often than not, individuals in Singapore can discover açaí in shops and cafes, or purchase frozen açaí berries from supermarkets. However have you ever ever questioned the place it comes from, and the way are we impacting the setting after we eat it?
Selva Meals brings açaí immediately from a single origin within the Amazon. “Certainly one of our essential distinction[s] is the flavour — a whole lot of our prospects share that they’ll inform when a spot serves Selva açaí,” says Cinthya Sayuri, the co-founder of Selva Meals.
Cinthya, who’s of Japanese heritage and from Brazil, met her Singaporean companion Shaun Lim in Shanghai again in 2012, after they had been each learning Chinese language.
“We met, fell in love, I went again to Sao Paulo and he joined me there one 12 months after. Whereas experiencing life there, we thought why not convey açaí to Singapore? [Afterall], being a neighborhood, [it] makes it simpler to go across the Amazon and supply for the berries.”
That was what led to the founding of Selva Meals in 2015, which goals to convey açaí immediately from the Amazon whereas respecting and honouring the communities there, dwelling as much as their model identify “Selva”, which implies jungle in Portugese.
Taking a leap of religion
When Cinthya interned at an alcohol drinks company, she would usually look out the window and watch the world go by.
“I had this sense that I didn’t wish to spend a lot of my time and life inside an workplace working for an organization, [and] if I invested as a lot effort and time into one thing of my very own, it might be rather more significant. It was a really idealistic thought on the time, however I saved some cash, left the job, went to Shanghai, acquired a job there, met Shaun and the remaining is historical past!” she shares.
Having lived in Brazil, she highlights that the individuals there have had entry to açaí for many years, making açaí push carts, açaí kiosks, açaí in bakeries, eating places and the likes, a typical sight.
When Shaun moved to dwell with Cinthya in Brazil, he realised they might faucet on Singapore as a take a look at marketplace for concepts and flavours for the reason that açaí scene in Singapore wasn’t as developed again in 2014.
This prompted them to convey over native açaí produce from Brazil, with the intention of providing extra meals choices that weren’t solely wholesome, however tasty.
“The entire concept of bringing it to Singapore was as a result of we needed to share one thing good with our family and friends,” says Cinthya, including that organising Selva Meals in Singapore may help of their growth into the remainder of Southeast Asia.
Nonetheless, regardless of Singapore’s thriving enterprise panorama, Cinthya notes that they weren’t spared from challenges. Regardless of placing in an preliminary funding of US$45,000 (S$61,900), she shares that it took them a few years to interrupt even.
I feel the primary [challenge] at the start was pushing a product nobody knew about. We spent the primary two years of the enterprise doing a whole lot of sampling in farmers markets, yoga studios, music festivals, something open air, to let individuals try to get a sense of what açaí was and the way it might be consumed.
– Cinthya Sayuri, co-founder of Selva Meals
She remembers the time after they used to supply the açaí in a single day earlier than packing and ship them on to shoppers’ homes the subsequent day. There have been many sleepless nights, however the rising variety of repeat orders and constructive suggestions saved them going.
Their first milestone was after they efficiently developed their product, Açaí Prepared To Serve, which allowed shoppers to have açaí in a extra handy and ready-to-eat means. It was tailor-made to the native palate, and had a sorbet-like consistency.
Nonetheless, Cinthya shares that creating and introducing a brand new product into the market has been an uphill job. Though there have been a number of specialists they might flip to, they primarily relied on themselves to give you new methods to innovate and enhance their merchandise.
Revitalising the Amazon with açaí
With the demand for açaí rising the previous few years, the açaí trade can doubtlessly save forests — that are struggling because of land-clearing actions like cattle ranching or logging — by working immediately with the native communities within the Amazon as a substitute.
Cinthya highlights that even right this moment, individuals who go to the Amazon can encounter unlawful logging and forest burning to clear means for grazing.
For this reason though açaí can come from a farm, Selva Meals determined to reap it immediately from the Amazon forest with the intention to hold the forest alive.
By working with the native communities there, Selva Meals helps in rising biodiversity whereas additionally being in tune with the life-style of the river communities which were harvesting the açaí there for generations.
The native communities they work with are the Amazonian communities dwelling by the river streams who harvest the açaí through the season.
“It’s information and work handed from technology to technology”, says Cinthya. “The ladies normally work deciding on the berries and mixing the açaí for consumption. It’s fairly fascinating to see their easy homes with a chest freezer inside to retailer açaí.”
Nonetheless, issues took a downturn when the pandemic hit. “We couldn’t get açaí from the area for [a while] as a result of the workers couldn’t go to the manufacturing facility”, Cinthya shares, including that they had been additionally affected by the shortage of shipments from Brazil to Singapore, which skyrocketed the price of their logistics.
In accordance with Cinthya, the Amazon area was one of many first ones to be affected with COVID-19 in Brazil. As a result of lack of infrastructure in additional distant areas, the individuals suffered enormously.
“It was a very darkish interval within the Amazon for nearly a 12 months. COVID aggravated the financial social scenario of these dwelling there and uncovered the shortage of sources and authorities planning”.
To assist the individuals of the Amazon, the duo held fundraisers in collaboration with native non-governmental organisations to purchase meals and medical provides.
Fortunately, the market has began to stabilise and operations are virtually again to regular. For açaí lovers, this implies extra kinds of açaí out there.
At Selva Meals, aside from açaí bowls and sorbets, there are additionally sustainably made “Selva Pops” that are made with ugly fruits — fruits that may have in any other case been discarded due to their blemished pores and skin or just because of an oversupply.
“[W]e combine açaí with ugly fruits, dip them in darkish chocolate and cacao nibs or fruit peel, and pack them in biodegradable wraps made out of corn. Even the stickers we use are biodegradable”, Cinthya shares.
Over time, Selva Meals has develop into a profitable enterprise totally arrange round açaí, which Cinthya deems as a really affirming and endearing feat, contemplating how such a neighborhood Brazilian Amazonian meals that she holds near her coronary heart is now unfold in Singapore, particularly when açaí wasn’t even a part of the market 5 to seven years in the past.
“Selva is our first enterprise and it’s been a loopy trip to create a enterprise and a life collectively,” Cinthya notes.
Moreover persevering with bringing açaí from the Amazon to Singapore and supplying to devoted açaí cafes right here, Cinthya highlights that they plan to maintain sharing the best açaí with others, with hopes of bringing fulfilment to individuals by giving them more healthy meals selections that nourish each their our bodies, and mom Earth.
“The aim is to convey açaí to the remainder of Southeast Asia,” she concludes.
Featured picture credit score: Selva Meals
Additionally learn: Revolut launches crypto buying and selling in S’pore, exec shares extra on its native crypto technique