Sambazon Amazon Superberry™ Açaí Bowl

overall rating:

2.75

planets

Julia Martin
7/15/2021
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Sambazon was founded by brothers Ryan and Jeremy Black and Ed Nichols in 2000 after they visited Brazil where they tried açaí bowls for the first time and were amazed by the idea. Based in San Clemente, California, Sambazon has built the açaí industry in the U.S. from the ground up. Sambazon operates with a triple-bottom-line (people, planet, prosperity), meaning they measure their company’s success in terms of their environmental and social impact, not just their profits. Sambazon manufactures a wide variety of açaí products like frozen açaí packs, sorbets, energy drinks, and juice. Their new ready-to-eat açaí bowl stands out because the bowl is made completely out of plant fibers and is compostable. This product demonstrates Sambazon’s dedication to improving their supply chain down to minor details that can have big impacts. Overall, Sambazon is an extremely transparent about many aspects of their company, especially their social impact in Brazil (where açaí is grown and harvested) and the journey of an açaí berry from tree to bowl. They are an exemplary pioneer in the açaí industry and have set the standard for açaí companies that follow them.

What it's made of:

2.5

The açaí in this product is organic and fair trade certified, meaning that its production “promotes an approach of Fair Trade that allows all producers and workers who are at a socio-economic disadvantage to access a wider range of social and economic benefits” (Fair for Life). In fact, Sambazon worked with the USDA to establish an organic standard specifically for açaí and with Eco-Cert (a certification and auditing company) to establish a fair trade certification for açaí. Thus, Sambazon became the first company with certified organic and fair trade açaí. Açaí is a berry packed with nutrients (and has been dubbed a superfood), but it is bitter to eat in its plain form, so Sambazon adds organic cane syrup (also sourced from Brazil) into this açaí bowl. According to the NIH, açaí is packed with antioxidants and can possibly lower blood sugar and cholesterol.

Beyond the quality ingredients inside the bowl, the plant-based bowl itself makes this product stand out. The bowl and seal are made completely out of plant fibers and decompose in about 60 days. Sambazon is not stopping their plant-based efforts here, however, and aims to produce 100% plant-based or post-consumer recycled packaging across their product line by 2025. The one improvement Sambazon could make to this product is ditching the cardboard sleeve around the bowl to make the entire product completely plant-based, but this açaí bowl is still far more sustainable than most competing products.

How it's made:

2.5

Açaí berries resemble blueberries and grow on long stems on trees in South America, particularly in northern Brazil. Sambazon is extremely transparent about the supply chain of their açaí, which begins with hand-harvesting açaí berries along the Amazon River in Brazil. Harvesting by hand is less damaging to the environment compared to harvesting with machines or tools because it is less disruptive to the açaí trees and surrounding ecosystem. After harvesting, the berries undergo quality control where they are checked for color and aroma and then transported by the bucket in boats down the Amazon River. Once inside Sambazon’s processing plants, the berries are washed, pureed, and packaged all within 48 hours of harvesting due to açaí‘s perishability. Sambazon even pays close attention to açaí seeds, their most abundant waste product, which they use as fuel for their processing facilities. They donate the remaining seeds to local jewelers and brick and tile manufacturers to power their furnaces. Sambazon is clearly committed to a sustainable process that they can keep repeating for years to come.

Who makes it:

3

Sambazon’s triple-bottom-line embodies the company’s treatment of their workers and contributions to the areas in Brazil where the açaí berries are harvested and processed. Sambazon has helped fund and build local schools, health clinics, and community centers in over 40 communities along the Amazon River. They do so by investing 5% of their profits back into the local farmers and communities in Brazil that make their company possible. I’ve seen few companies as transparent as Sambazon about their efforts for social change and how they are actively improving the lives and welfare of their employees, and I hope that other companies follow their lead.