It took Agro Innova 10 years to perfect its patent-pending process of gently extracting and processing the pulp from the cacao fruit to produce Suavva, the gluten-free cacao smoothie line that will likely hit store shelves later this year.
“Even though people out in the plantations have been consuming this part of the fruit for centuries, but it’s been largely unexploited because it’s hard to extract and not many people could really get to it—particularly away from the plantation—because it ripens very quickly,” Joseph Montgomery III, CEO of Florida-based Agro Innova and a seventh-generation cacao farmer, told FoodNavigator-USA. “Cacao fruit is funny in that it’s used in the complete opposite way of an apple. It has very thick skin, very big seeds and almost no pulp—hence why it hasn’t really been used. It took us a long time to figure out the process to extract the pulp in such a way that would maintain its quality and health properties.”
The health benefits of cacao fruit are no secret—the seeds (which are fermented to make chocolate) are rich in antioxidants and packed with flavanols and theobromine (a relative of caffeine), which may help lower cholesterol and reduce risk of heart disease.