by Marion Nestle
Nov 23 2009

You heard it here: the hot trend is cupuaçu (?)

What, you may well ask, is cupuaçu?  I confess never having heard of it but thank heavens for Wikipedia, which explains in somewhat limited detail that it is a chocolate-like tree with a sweet fruit.  Botanically, it is a Theobroma in the chocolate family.

Mintel, the market research firm, identifies it as the newest antioxidant-rich fruit craze.  It says this fruit is not only rich in antioxidants, but also in vitamins, essential fatty acids and amino acids.  Well, yes, but so are all fruits to a greater or lesser extent.  But never mind.  Anything this exotic has to be a marketers’ dream “superfruit,” no?

Can’t wait to taste it.  If you know anything about this, do say, especially about how it might taste.

Mintel has six other predictions for upcoming hot trends:  sweet potato, cardamom, rose water, hibiscus, and Latin spices. Yum.  Aren’t you happy to be the first to know?

  • Mark Douglas

    Now that I know what I will need to find trendy, I can die happy ;).

    Remember Guarana? (SP?)

  • Jenna

    oh hibiscus has already become popularized– at my local co op they started selling “hibiscus fruit drinks” and they were in these funky-shaped plastic bottles… watch out!! hahaha. i wonder how they will market rose water…. i mean, the only thing i have had it with is baklava, and the flavor was intense!! i predict that it will be the next new “flavored water” and will be served in an elegant bottle or something. oh, food trends. the funny thing about cupuacu is that NO ONE is going to be able to pronounce it. sadly, i still hear people calling quinoa (kwin-oh-uh) and acai (uh-kai). ohhhh, the power of food marketing. well, at least it gets more people to eat more fruit… unfortunately it is most often fruit flown in from thousands of miles away, but it is better than a greasy burger made from foreign beef, no? reductionist science is so crazy. i bet most people wouldn’t believe it if i told them an apple or a carrot had.. dun dun dun… ANTIOXIDANTS IN IT?! haha.

  • Jesse

    I’ve had it in Brazil where it’s drunk as juice or eaten with a spoon, in a thick, creamy, frozen puree (the same way acai is typically consumed there). Also like acai, in Brazil it’s just another delicious tropical fruit – not a miracle product. In Brazil I was always told it was related to cacao, not coffee, and it is similar in appearance and flavor to the cacao fruit: sweet, creamy, very complex with some slightly funky undertones. Definitely an acquired taste – although I’m sure it will taste like pure sugar in what ever form it takes when it’s finally marketed here.

    Also, it’s pronounced koo-poo-ah-SOO.

  • K.

    Rose water, cardamom and hibiscus? So, Mediterranean desserts are about to become popular? Can’t complain about that. (Also can’t complain if it means I can get rose water without having to order it online!)

    That said, if these are the new neutraceuticals, the craze continues to amuse. (Although at least with “Latin spices”, there’s a chance that things will be used in a holistic approach that might actually harness their health benefits.)

  • Cathy Richards

    does anyone know if it has caffeine?

  • Ellie

    I strolled into my local big box store the other day and was assaulted by strategically placed Acai super drink video promo displays. I chuckled a bit at first, then got upset that such nonsensical claims could be foisted upon us.

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  • B. Koch

    Any one who has studied and used herbs knows the value of these foods and spices. It’s a shame the scientists are just discovering what herblists have known for thousands of years. It will be a steep learning curve!

  • Being of the genus Theobroma, cupuaçu is related to chocolate, not coffee. It does contain caffeine-like compounds, such as theobromine, which is found in chocolate.

  • Peg

    Right on, Jenna! Apples, carrots, kale, purple cabbage, blueberries, spinach, broccoli, raspberries, tomatoes, winter squash, black beans, parsley, strawberries–diverse phytocompound-rich superfoods grow in great variety wherever people live.

    Common garden weeds (dandelion, lamb’s quarters, nettles, pigweed, purslane) and wild fruits such as elderberry, blackberries, and the invasive autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata) produce even more protective phytocompounds. (e.g., USDA research has shown that autumn olive berries contain 18 times the lycopene of tomatoes. Plus, they’re delicious and make fabulous jam.)

    Plants can’t move, so they have to manufacture their own chemical defenses against excess photoradiation, free radicals, pathogens, and predators. Evidence is mounting that animals (including humans) expropriate many similar protective benefits when they eat a lot of plant foods, especially when they eat the whole food rather than as a drink, an extract, or a pill.

    The problem: getting people to eat more and a greater diversity of readily available vegetables and fruits. But nobody wins big grants or makes big bucks running around teaching people to eat more vegetables or forage for wild fruits.

  • Sweet potato and other everyday stuff like broccoli and ginger are potent anti-inflammatory foods. We don’t need marketers to tell us what to eat. All of us will do a lot better by eating vegetables and fruits of different shades and colors everyday.

  • FG_2009

    I am from Brazil and I had the puree and the ice-cream several times. It tastes a little bit tart, so I am sure they will have to adapt to the american palate. There are so many other tropical fruits from the Amazon besides cupuaçu, it seems that marketers are discovering tropical fruits and bringing to the US to find the big hit.

    I am sure the Brazilian fruits are in the “good for you” category, but it seems that people are exagerating the good aspects of the fruits with “miracle” effects… I guess better fruit than Coke with Vitamins…

  • Ev

    What I know about cupuacu. This fruit is considered Brazil’s national fruit. According to some scientists in Brazil. this fruit is better that acai berry as it has more concentrated vitamins, antioxidants, etc.

    from natural anti inflammatory

  • I appreciate learning about various foods that are naturally rich in antitoxidants, now it is time to learn some more things about cupuaçu.

  • SAO

    HIbiscus is ubiquitous in herbal tea because it produces a lovely red color, which most red fruits don’t do in the amounts they are found in tea. It has a fairly strong taste, not bad, but kind of tedious when you your strawberry tea tastes remarkably like cranberry tea and they all taste like red zinger.

  • Great insights on the nutritional value of cupuaçu.

  • Most of the fruits around us have some sort of health benefit:

  • Discover chocolate

    Cupuacu tastes like a combination of chocolate and pineapple. Cacao is very similar but the main difference is that Cupuacu does not contain any caffeine at all, although oddly has the effects of caffeine. Judging that this article is over 6 years old Cupuacu never really seemed to take off. We have started importing it into the UK but every person we speak to has not heard of it, even wholefood shop owners. Even though Cupuacu is healthy it is very important that Production methods are also correct to make sure you don’t lose the Fruits benefits.