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Cupuaçu, a Brazilian National Fruit
Photo courtesy of Neuza Campelo (Embrapa Amazônia Ocidental, Manaus-AM)

Cupuaçu (Theobroma grandiflorum), an Amazon fruit from the same family as the cocoa (Theobroma cacao), is one of the native fruits travelers will come across often while visiting Brazil.

A power food which contains protein, calcium and antioxidants, cupuaçu has a white pulp with a slightly tart flavor.

The name is pronounced koo-poo-ah-SUE.

Where to Try It:

Cupuaçu is available throughout Brazil as packaged frozen pulp, sold in most large supermarkets. Many juice and ice cream shops have it on their menu; Amazon companies such as Bombons Finos da Amazônia and Oiram Chocolates in Manaus make cupuaçu-filled bonbons.

Cereal bars are other sweet cupuaçu treats you'll find at Brazil's grocery stores.

Cupuaçu has moisturizing properties. It's used in beauty products such as Ekos by Natura or Amazonia Viva body lotions.

Edible products and cosmetics made from cupuaçu often follow sustainable principles.

Finding cupuaçu in your country will probably get easier as more companies such as Earth Fruits import it from Brazil.

A National Fruit

For about six years, the cupuaçu was at the center of an international dispute when a Japanese company registered it as a trademark. Brazilian organizations such as the GTA (Amazonian Working Group) and Amazonlink.org led a campaign which resulted in the cancellation of the trademark in Japan and in a law which confirmed cupuaçu as a Brazilian national fruit in May 2008.

Cupuaçu Chocolate

Embrapa Amazônia Oriental, a subdivision of Embrapa (Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, www.embrapa.br) which has developed a cupuaçu-based chocolate, was also favored in the trademark cancellation process, as the Japanese company intended to register cupulate (not yet available for purchase).

According to Embrapa, cupuaçu chocolate is caffeine-free and contains 33,44% more protein than cocoa chocolate.

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