(LIP-wb) — Japanese consumer’s first contact with the pleasantly flavored Amazonian fruit known as “camu camu” was in form of a refreshment drink, then in liquor, and now causes sensation as vinegar used for the refinement of salads.
According to Toyohara Hidekazu, responsible for tropical foods at the Agrarian University of Tokyo, the demand for the Peruvian product on the Japanese archipelago has increased drastically and in order to provide proof for that trend, Japanese retailers say their camu camu stocks are exhausted.
In an interview with Peruvian Radio RPP Noticias, Toyohara emphasized that the intention of his training center is not to obtain a greater commercialization of the product but to reach a series of social objectives with Peruvian agriculturists dedicated to the cultivation of camu camu.
The camu camu fruit’s history is printed on every commercial container
“Our intention is to collaborate with authorities in their effort to replace the cultivation of coca leafs; to collaborate with agriculturists who have limited resources so they can develop; to help to preserve the environment and to generate a better income for the peasants of the Amazon”, he expressed.
Each commercial camu camu package includes the fruit’s history and a map of its origin, in order to promote it in Japan.
“We are not looking for making money but to promote this wonderful product. The profits are reinvested in analysis, research and the expansion of camu camu cultivation in the Peruvian Amazon”, he added.
The professor revealed they are currently exploring the creation of new products such jam, sweets and cosmetics using the fruit’s essence.
According to numbers provided by Peru’s Exporter Association (ADEX), camu camu exports to Japan totaled US$ 1.552 million between January and November 2006, representing 83% of all exports.
The variety of products is the result of a patient investigative work and development since 1995, between the Agrarian University of Tokyo and theUniversidad Nacional Agraria La Molina del Perú.
The camu camu (Myrciaria dubia), also known as Cacari and Camocamo, is a small (approx. 3-5 m tall) bushy river side tree which bears a red/purple cherry like fruit. The plant is extremely tolerant of flooding, withstanding 4 to 5 months with the roots and even much of the aerial parts submerged in water.
Long used by native peoples, wild camu-camu is harvested directly into canoes. The fruit has only recently come into large-scale cultivation and sale to the world market with Japan being the major buyer. It is relatively easy to cultivate. It survives best in hot, damp tropical climates but will grow in the subtropics, surviving temperatures down to just above freezing. Trees begin to bear fruit after about 4 to 6 years.
The fruit is extremely acidic and the flavour can only be appreciated in recipes requiring a blender, dilution in milk/water and the addition of sugar. The extraordinarily high Vitamin C content (in the order of 2-3% of fresh weight!), is the most important property of the camu camu fruit. (Source: Wikipedia)