The fruit, commonly known as açaí berry is a small, round, black-purple drupe about 25 mm (1 in) in circumference, similar in appearance to a grape, but smaller and with less pulp and produced in branched panicles of 500 to 900 fruits. The exocarp of the ripe fruits is a deep purple color, or green, depending on the kind of açaí and its maturity. The mesocarp is pulpy and thin, with a consistent thickness of 1 mm (0.04 in) or less. It surrounds the voluminous and hard endocarp, which contains a single large seed about 7–10 mm (0.3–0.4 in) in diameter. The seed makes up about 80% of the fruit.
In 2005, an article published by Greenpeace International stated that “the tasty dark violet wine of açaí is the most important non-wood forest product in terms of money from the river delta of the Amazon.” A 2008 Los Angeles Times article noted that while açaí has been acclaimed by some sources as a renewable resource that can provide a sustainable livelihood for subsistence harvesters without damaging the Amazon Rainforest, conservationists worry that açaí could succumb to the destructive agribusiness model of clear-cut lands, sprawling plantations, and liberal application of pesticides and fertilizer. In May 2009, Bloomberg reported that the expanding popularity of açaí in the United States was “depriving Brazilian jungle dwellers of a protein-rich nutrient they’ve relied on for generations.”