A fruitful company
The company Natur SRL is specialized in freeze-drying of fruits, especially the super fruit açaí but also camu-camu and other fruits. The company started in October 2013 and the freeze-dried food production began in August 2014. Natur works with a high-tech process food dehydrator. Because of this the fruits get a minimal change in color, taste and texture and they maintain their nutritional value. In February 2015 the company started its first export. The company now wants to enter the national market of Bolivia, so that the Bolivian people themselves can benefit from the fruits.
The super fruit açaí
The choice to exploit the fruit açaí from the açaí palm tree was made for various reasons. First of all, some rural communities do not adequately reap the benefits of this palm. They mainly focus on the heart of the palm for sales, for which they have to destroy the palm trees. This does not provide communities a solution to generate a sustainable income, while exploiting the fruit açaí does. Secondly, the açaí palms in Bolivia contain the highest concentration of antioxidants and a lower concentration of fats compared to the palms in Brazil. Lastly, açaí has a high demand abroad, mainly in the USA but with a growing demand in Europe due to its high antioxidants.
André Luiz Napravnik is a Civil and Chemical Engineer, graduated from the Catholic University of Salvador in Brazil. He has an extensive career in the industrial sector. His last work consisted out of the optimization of a freeze-drying plant and the development of free-drying products and markets. This experience led him to start his own venture.
Producing for the national market
Currently 99% of the products of Natur are exported in bulk packages for resale. The importers produce energy drinks, food supplements, cosmetics and other food products. This poses a risk in case there are situations in which Bolivian exports are restricted. Also, the Bolivian people are not benefiting themselves from the super fruits freeze-dried by Natur. The fruits return to Bolivia with foreign brands with much higher prices than could be obtained if they were purchased directly from Natur. With this background, Natur carried out a research to the Bolivian market for new fruits as mango, pineapple, apple and banana. The company is now planning to develop the local market by investing in equipment for retail packaging. In this way freeze-dried products can be sold to the Bolivian public. Supermarkets, convenience stores and pharmacies already showed interest in retailing these products. After serving the Bolivian market successfully, Natur wants to explore other countries in Latin-America as well. The growth potential is being complemented with implementing a financial management system that will support and improve the management of the company in an integral way. It will offer strategic and actualized reports for the shareholders.
At the moment, 62 collectors recollect açaí from trees and 38 employees processes the açaí to puree in small facilities in the communities. Natur buys the puree from the communities, so the communities receive added value as well. In total around 600 smallholder farmers are involved. There are also 6 administrative posts in the communities. The establishment of a second freezedry chamber targeting the local market would benefit new providers. Indigenous communities and local producers can increase and diversify their production. They will be sure that they will sell what they harvest. Currently they have the disadvantage that at peak harvest, a part is lost to rotting. With proper freezedrying and packaging, this will not happen anymore. Also, new jobs will be created in the distribution chain, logistics and the promotion of the products. Around 100 additional smallholders will be involved.