Dubbed the ‘Guarana Expansion Project’, the project brought together food manufacturers and suppliers, scientists from Brazilian national agronomy research institute Empraba, and farmers’ cooperatives.
The project began in 2016 with the aim of promoting farmers to plant varieties of guarana that are more productive and resistant to disease.
The variety, called BRS Maués, can produce around 1.5 kg of dry seeds per year while a native guarana plant produces around 300 g. BRS Maués also begins producing seeds around 18 months after planting as opposed to five years for the native variety.
The first fruit from these productive and more resistant guarana trees planted as part of the Guarana Expansion Project is due to be harvested this year.
The program has involved nearly 800 smallholder farmers that now have an additional source of income while the technical know-how amassed during the project’s two-year duration has been transferred to farmers’ cooperatives, said soft drink trade group ABIR.
Improving cultivation in the Amazon
The project was sponsored by flavor supplier Sabores Vegetais do Brasil, which manufactures guarana concentrate and extracts, and soft drink manufacturer Bebidas Poty, whose portfolio includes a guarana drink, was also involved.
Guarana seeds contain around twice as much caffeine as coffee and are a popular ingredient in energy drinks in Latin America.
Poty CEO José Luiz Franzotti said the project was one of the most important initiatives aimed at improving guarana cultivation in the Amazon. "The goal is to have better quality guarana valorizing this characteristic fruit of Brazil, with a flavor that is successful worldwide,” he said, at the beginning of the project.
According to flavor manager at Sabores Vegetais do Brasil, Vagner Pacchioni, the quality of the extract depends on the quality of the raw material.
"We only get high-quality guarana seeds. It is from this seed that the guarana will be extracted and, in a second stage, the concentrate will be sent to Poty. With this, the product that reaches the final consumer has an incomparable flavor and quality.”