Taste of the Amazon seeks new markets for sustainably managed wild pirarucu

Project joins initiatives in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, and launches new website

Taste of the Amazon, a project created to promote the consumption of managed wild pirarucu, has been looking for new ways to establish itself in the Rio de Janeiro market, and expand to São Paulo and Brasília. In light of the difficulties that bars and restaurants are facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Taste of the Amazon project participated in the Rio Gastronomia Delivery Festival in July.

In São Paulo, a partnership with Biobá (a recently launched online platform for socio-biodiversity products) will enable people to buy pirarucu online. In addition, a new website (gostodamazonia.com.br) has been launched with more information on the project.

Pirarucu is the largest freshwater scale fish in the world. It can grow up to 3 meters in length, and weigh 200 kilos. Found mainly in the Amazon, its sustainable management has helped to protect the survival of the species, in addition to providing food and income autonomy to the communities involved, and strengthening biodiversity conservation. 

Pirarucu management began more than 20 years ago in the Mamirauá Sustainable Development Reserve, and is currently carried out in at least 31 areas, with authorization from the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA). The Taste of the Amazon project was created in April 2019 with the goal of expanding the consumption of sustainably managed wild pirarucu to other Brazilian regions through a number of initiatives to promote sales, improve marketing, and support logistics.

The project is based on the social and productive organization of the families and associations involved in fishery management, bringing together communities, civil society, and government organizations. It is led by the United States Forest Service and the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio), with resources from USAID/Brazil and support from other entities, including the Mamirauá Sustainable Development Institute (IDSM). The Carauari Rural Producers Association (ASPROC), which works with riverine communities along the Médio Juruá River (AM), centralizes all commercial arrangements. 

“One of our bottlenecks is how to open markets outside the Amazon. In addition to these promotional activities in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Brasília, we are trying to engage with wholesale and retail business partners, as well as supporting logistics, which are important to expand the market,” explains Pedro Constantino from the US Forest Service.

Last year, with the aim of promoting the consumption of pirarucu, 10 renowned chefs from Rio de Janeiro visited the production areas to learn about gastronomic potential. Three demonstration events were held in 2019 on how to prepare and savor pirarucu. 

Frédéric Monnier is one of the chefs that has been using pirarucu for his homemade. In June, during a social media live with visual artist Fessal, Monnier taught viewers a pirarucu recipe, while Fessal demonstrated painting techniques. The painting will be auctioned in the future, and the proceeds will be donated to the Paumari Association, which runs a pirarucu management site. 

Background – As a result of uncontrolled fishing practices in the mid-20th century, pirarucu was almost wiped out from Amazon rivers. Today, fishing is a community activity. Fishing managers protect the lakes, count fish stocks, employ scientifically validated methodology, and apply for fishing quotas from the government. In 2019, the pirarucu fishing quota increased by 29% in the state of Amazonas, according to data from the State Secretariat for the Environment. This growth benefited over 1,200 riverine families. 

Learn more at gostodamazonia.com.br