Confusion Over Acai Does Not Mute Market Proponents swear by fruit's healing powers, but science remains skeptical. ABC News
Morning Acai Market To get a sense of what acai means for the Amazon, get up very early and visit the acai market in Belem, the main city in the region. By some estimates, 40,000 people in the region work with acai. The market begins well before sunrise and the scale of it is impressive. Bony Monteiro, the acai producer, said the market moves fast -- and with good reason. "Look, if you take days to process, the fruit is not OK anymore," Monteiro said. "You need to process the fruit in 24 hours." On the edge of the rainforest, Monteiro has built his processing plant, one of several sleek new acai factories in the area. His plant, Bony Acai, recently was inspected and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Monteiro said he had to work with engineers to develop the machinery for processing acai on a mass scale to meet world demand."We feel here like industrial revolution here," said Monteiro. "We take the manual process, the knowledge from that people, join that people with the engineer and its happened." Monteiro said production was growing rapidly. "I think we double every year," he said.