From a restaurant in Belém do Pará, which once served Pope John Paul II, Emperor Akihito of Japan and several Brazilian personalities, come out native products from the Amazon to be commercialized at hundreds of points of sale throughout Brazil.
The restaurant Lá em Casa (Back at Home, translating it to English) has existed for 47 years and is managed by the third generation of the family, always focusing on dishes from Pará, such as pirarucu (fish) baits, tacacá (soup), drowned crab and vatapá paraense (dried shrimp, tucupi and wheat flour). It is one of the best known restaurants of Brazilian and Amazonian food in Brazil.
From the last five years, these flavors can be found outside Belém, at 250 points of sale and 21 states. While chef Daniela Martins is running the restaurant’s operation, her sister Joanna Martins created a new division, Manioca, which manufactures 21 different items, including jams and seasonings, alongside partner Paulo Reis.
One of the best known products is black tucupi sauce extracted from the root of the brava cassava. With its black color and striking flavor, Joanna sees the ingredient as the “21st century soy sauce”. All products are 100% natural, without additives or preservatives.
In 2018, the company sold 33 tons of food and sold 20,000 jars of jam. The company expects to achieve revenues of R$ 1 million in 2019 and R$ 1.7 million in 2020.
Initially, Joanna curated these products, such as jambu, tucupi and cassava flour for the sale of retailers and restaurants such as DOM, Dalva and Dito, Maní and others.
According to her, the idea for the industrial division came from retail, which also wanted to market these items.
Even if these flavors from the Amazon call the attention of consumers, they are unknown. Therefore, one of manioca’s major investments is marketing and tasting, to present the flavors, ingredients and possible combinations for consumers from other Brazilian regions.
The company has built, next to the restaurant, a food factory that employs 14 people. The choice to host manufacturing in Bethlehem is intentional. As the packaging comes from São Paulo, the transport of these materials to the Northern region comes out more expensive than if the factory were already in the Southeast. However, the businesswoman chose to develop jobs, logistics partners, printing companies and other companies in the city.
The company was accelerated in 2018 by the Amazon Partnership Program (PPA) and this year the company made a profit for the first time. Today, it is capturing the second round of investments with support from the same fund.
Investments drive the launch of new lines and products. There are eight new items in development that are expected to be presented soon. Joanna says she seeks investors who understand the purpose of her business, to develop Amazonian culture, rather than seeking only results and profit.