The new distribution agreement follows increasing popularity of acai, dark purple berries rich in antoxidants and omega-6 fatty acids, in healthy beverages and other foods.
SunOpta is expecting revenue of between US$1 and $1.5 million in the first year of sales, said Jeremy Kendall, chairman and CEO of the Canadian group.
Sambazon sources wild-harvested acai berries from the Brazilian Amazon and the pulp is then quick frozen to retain their nutritional properties. The fruit contains a very high concentration of anthocyanins, as well as protein, fiber, and omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids.
SunOpta says the product will add to its offering for organic private label fruit juice products for major retail grocery chains, food manufacturers and distributors in North America.
"In addition, the exclusive supply of organic Acai pulp will provide a valuable industrial ingredient that can be used in a wide range of food and beverage applications," said Joseph Stern, president of organic ingredients and vice president of the SunOpta Fruit Group.
The deal will also help Sambazon increase awareness of the fruit.
Sambazon was founded in 2000 and claims to be the first company to bring the berry from the Amazon to North America. It currently makes a range of smoothies, concentrates and capsules containing the fruit, for sale in major retail stores and juice bars including Whole Foods, Wild Oats, Vitamin Shoppe and GNC.
The firm operates a fair trade supply chain that benefits local families and protects the biodiversity of the Amazon Rainforest.