Ucuuba Butter: Feet on the ground and standing forest

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Ucuuba Butter: Feet on the ground and standing forest

How new sustainable management measures for ucuuba changed the lives of producing families and imprinted the brand of product on the world beauty market.

The name ucuúba derives from the indigenous language and means: “ucu” (fat) and “yba” (tree), in other words, fat tree or even butter tree. It is also no less, since from this powerful fruit are extracted seeds that contain 60 to 65% of a powerful lipid compound, known as “tallow” or ucuuba butter.

The raw material is obtained from seeds of several species of the botanical family of Myristicaceae, such as Virola surinamensis and Virola sebifera, which although producing identical fruits and flowers, are differentiated by the sap of their barks, which may be red in color. (V. sebifera) or white (V. surinamensis). These trees reach 25 to 35 meters in height, and when mature, can produce between 30 and 50 kg of seeds/year.

Its harvest, which extends from February to July, directly impacts the lives of several families, and the collection of fruits has even greater significance. As a result of this activity, dozens of women from communities near the Amazonian marshes, tidal flooded islands, and almost all the Amazon River and its tributaries, reached their financial freedom and contribute positively to the region’s economic development. These women, together, go out to collect the fruits from the rivers with fishing nets, leaving some of them, with pulp, to the fish as an important source of food.

The timber potential of the ucuúba tree has been intensely exploited, as it is excellent for laminate and plywood production. In the past, trees were sold for about R $ 5,00, having their wood transformed into broomsticks, which generate no more than R $ 0,40 a unit in the fairs and ports of Belém, for example. It is worth noting that this is an endangered tree.

So the incentive to production of this butter derived from Brazilian biodiversity not only enhances the product with great natural properties, but also contributes to the improvement of quality of life and empowers women producers and balances the entire local ecosystem.

Therefore, the professionalization of families and their organization of this communities  with local leadership and global support, such as the exponent Belém Islands Women’s Movement, Cotijuba Island, increasingly encourages the marketing of seeds at a fair price and keeps the forest preserved, with much more possibilities and generating more income for longer. In addition, the fruits collected at their ideal ripening time, as promoted by qualified suppliers from the Citróleo Group, maintain the sustainability of the production chain: the forest stands and the ucuuba butter with its natural composition unchanged.

Ucuuba butter has a waxy appearance, dark brown color and characteristic woody odor and is traditionally used to make candles and soaps. Especially interesting for the soap market, the soap produced with this butter has high strength and durability, as well as healing and invigorating properties. Some products already use these devices to replace petroleum-derived paraffin for more natural solutions.

But the advancement in studies of this vegetable product has put it in a prominent position in several other segments, such as lotions and extra moisturizers. Its main feature is the velvety feel that provides, due to the high penetration power, without oily residual, even when applied directly to the skin. It is an especially interesting plant derivative for eczema treatment and use on dry, sensitive or irritated skin.

This may be related to the fact that ucuuba butter is one of the major vegetable sources of myristic acid (C14:0), a saturated medium chain fatty acid of great cosmetic importance; then in its composition there are large amounts of trimyristin, a triglyceride formed by this acid, used in the manufacture of perfumes, shaving creams and soaps or also as a fat emollient bringing the function of softness and smoothness. Myristic acid is reasonably water soluble, with foam characteristics and detergent power.

In addition to myristic acid as a major component in its fatty profile, ucuuba butter is also composed of lauric acid (C12: 0) and palmitic acid (C16: 0). Together these acids account for almost 100% of the composition of this butter. The raw material is also composed of some unsaturated fatty acids such as oleic (C18: 1), or omega-9.

Protectively, this butter can also be applied to hair care products as it forms a layer on the hair. This helps in treating and preventing harmful actions of agents such as sun, wind, pollution, sea and pool.

Another important aspect of this butter is its ability to modify formulation rheology due to its melting point. So, in addition to delivering the aesthetic benefits, the ucuuba butter guarantees the sensory appeal of the cosmetic product. It is therefore an ideal raw material for replacing animal fats in production processes, even helping to avoid scale problems during processing. The melting point of ucuuba butter is around 45-50 ° C.

To evaluate the efficacy of the product, ucuuba butter was tested in a standard formulation as the sole active and moisturizing / emollient agent. During the 30-day period, the volunteers made use of the 3% butter lotion twice a week. The surprising results show what the theory already indicated: In addition to the great capacity of skin regeneration, in a natural and non-aggressive way, ucuuba butter helps to smooth out imperfections, reduce roughness and cracking, and promote deep hydration with very nice dry touch. The two photos on the left below (figure 1) represent the start of the tests and the photos on the right after the 30 days of testing, where it is possible to prove the effectiveness of the butter under study.

Figure 1. Examples of tissue regeneration promoted by ucuuba butter.

Thus, once again, the Citróleo Group bets on nature as it is, and draws not only on the traditional (and why not secular) knowledge of the Amazonian families, as well as advanced and pioneering characterization studies to enhance the Brazilian natural riches. And synergistically, it combines innovation and well-being that its raw materials lead to consumers, respect for the environment and the people who live there.