Arauco: Transforming the Wealth of Native Forests into Sustainable Health and Wellness Products
Arauco, a global leader in forestry products with operations across the Americas, owns more than 200,000 hectares of native forest in Chile, which were not used for company business.
In 2011, the Arauco Innovation Program tackled the challenge of how to generate sustainable value from this asset, both for the company and local communities. The program identified an opportunity in non-timber forest products, specifically maqui, a family of berries native to the region. Maqui are particularly high in antioxidants and considered a “superfruit” with demonstrable health benefits. The challenge was to create a range of products positioning the fruit as a sustainable, natural, and healthy food and nutraceutical products for markets worldwide.
Taking advantage of the many benefits maqui has for the body, Arauco launched the natural antioxidant drink “+ Maqui”.
Maqui is harvested from the forests by networks of pickers managed by Arauco, with the goal of promoting best practices in sustainable harvesting, ensuring the availability of fruit year after year with minimal intervention in the ecosystem. This includes training of the harvesters, fair pay and the incentive to organize groups for harvesting other fruits in the future. The production and harvesting processes have been certified by the Swiss Institute for Marketecology as establishing a fair payment for micro-traders.
In the most recent harvesting season, 50 local entrepreneurs harvested more than 30 tons. Arauco – trough InnovaArauco, an innovation platform for diverse business ideas and concepts – provides tools for small farmers to cultivate this type of resource sustainably and responsibly in order to value the richness of the Chilean native forest.
In late October of 2014 a product line of “+ Maqui” was presented in prototype stage on the market, with sales forecasts of 500,000 cans in 2015. Full roll-out of the products is intended for the second half of 2015, with the aim of positioning the Chilean product as a major player in the food and nutraceutical market worldwide.