"I’ve done a lot of travelling in Brazil and had come across the acai berry many times without actually knowing just how unique it is. It’s almost impossible to avoid – they eat it in everything, with everything, and on everything. For example, in ice cream and cold smoothies served along the beach. So I was always a bit curious about that tiny purple berry.
When Isolde was just a baby, her father and I took her on a maternity leave holiday in Brazil. We met some Argentinians who told us about acai and how they had begun importing it. They listed all the berry’s qualities and that’s when I began to think “wow, that’s it!”.
I was searching for a star ingredient for my skincare collection that would later become Rudolph Care. The lab had suggested a variety of different ingredients, including rose quartz and that sort of thing, but they just didn’t feel right to me.
After the trip, I went back to the lab in Jutland and asked them to do further research on acai as an ingredient. In Brazil, they’ve used acai as medicine and a dietary supplement for many years and also in beauty and skincare. When the lab came back showing that acai really was a multi-featured ingredient, it just felt so right, and acai would later become the key ingredient in all Rudolph Care products.
Acai is extremely rich in vitamins, minerals and the essential fatty acids Omega 6 & 9. The berry has an utterly unique, exceptionally high concentration of antioxidants – twice as many as the blueberry and 30 times more than red wine. Acai helps to protect the body against free radicals and its wealth of antioxidants acts to delay the skin’s natural ageing process.
In addition to acai becoming a key ingredient of Rudolph Care products, I decided to create an acai oil in a completely concentrated form. This would become our Acai Anti-ageing Facial Oil.
Euterpe Oleracea Fruit Oil, which is the scientific name for acai oil, is exceedingly costly. Each litre of acai oil contains 100 kg of organic, hand-picked acai berries from the Amazon rainforest in Brazil which are harvested by hand by the indigenous peoples of the jungle where the berries grow naturally. The acai berry harvest is an important source of income for these people, and Rudolph Care works with a local community consisting of 200 families.
Over the years, we stayed in close communication with our partners in Brazil and a few years after the product launch, I decided to return there and see for the first time how the acai berry was actually picked.
I travelled with an amazing photographer, Isak Hoffmayer, who was documenting the trip and would hopefully bring some gorgeous and unique images back home with us. We were interested in following the berry’s journey from branch to bottle and in meeting the locals, whose way of life depends on the acai berry harvest.
It was an incredible experience. The best berries are found deep in the forest, in the shade. The strong men who pick the berries climb up in the trees using only their bare hands and feet. They have a small sack around their waists and feet that they use as a sort of rope. They set up a tarpaulin under the tree so not a single berry goes to waste. They are amazingly thorough! Then they snap off the branch, which holds a cluster of acai berries, crawl carefully down to the ground and remove the berries from the branches. It’s very fine, painstaking work and there is a great deal of tree climbing involved.
The berries are placed in baskets. The locals then sell the berry-filled baskets on to larger boats that sail further down the river to end up in Belim. Then the berries are transported to the factory, where we also followed the process. The berries are pressed in Belim and transformed into oil. The oil goes into a barrel at the factory and that barrel makes its way to Denmark.
It was a wonderful experience meeting these people – they are extremely warm, welcoming and have loads of time to spend with you. You could really feel that they took pride in their acai berries, and that they thought our project was both interesting and exciting.
It really means so much to me when I use our acai oil. I know exactly where it comes from and I understand why the berries are so expensive. I’ve seen what it takes to harvest acai berries and how much work and love goes into every single step.
It’s also very rewarding to know that we’re making a difference in their lives. For the rainforest. Acai is such a large part of our concept and it really does make a difference – at a higher level – more than simply having a lovely experience in the bathroom. We – and those who buy Rudolph Care, of course – are helping to preserve a part of the Amazon rainforest, and that has immense significance. For the local peoples who make a living harvesting the acai berry, for the rainforest that doesn’t have to be cleared, and lastly, for us all. In the long term, I want to undertake more projects of this type, those with a greater purpose. And there are already several ideas on the drawing board."
- Andrea Elizabeth Rudolph