PROVA: Routes of Taste
PROVA uses Food Ingredients Europe to showcase flavors that fit a world of tastes
A worldwide leader in conceiving and manufacturing vanilla, cocoa, coffee and sweet brown extracts and flavors for the sweet food industry, PROVA is present in more than 60 countries across five continents.
PROVA used the recent Food Ingredients Europe convention to kick off the company’s 70th anniversary celebration (starting in 2016). It also invited attendees to take a three-day journey on the “Routes of Taste.” Each day developers and corporate chefs highlighted foods from a different region of the world: Asian and Middle-East, the Americas (North, South America) and Europe.
A few years ago, PROVA launched a program based on a simple concept. By getting to know more about local tastes in countries around the world, we become better equipped to create flavors with appealing characteristics. By taking the “Routes of Taste,” we renew ties with the “Roots of Taste.”
Food industry globalization cannot be understated. Food products have become standardized as the food industry has evolved to reach every corner of the globe. But that does not mean that our eating habits and taste preferences are all the same.
Food and drink are an integral part of each region’s culture and history. We are, in fact, what we eat. And manufacturers have taken that to heart as they adapt to regional preferences. For example:
• Beverage companies no longer create global advertising campaigns, instead of focusing on more local communications.
• Chocolate bars manufacturers develop numerous variations of the same bars for local markets, the best example being Japan. There are versions flavored with Red Beans, Wasabi, Green Tea, Taro… all local tastes, locally made, for a local market.
• Fast food multi-nationals have dramatically adapted their menu to fit local palates.
As a global flavor house, PROVA recognizes the importance of this trend. Our primary concern is no longer to fit “the world’s taste,” but rather to create flavors that fit “the world of tastes.” One could say that the concept “Think Globally, Act Locally” has never been more appropriate.
Thus, PROVA took its entire range of extracts and flavorings and applied them to a range of food applications at Food Ingredients Europe. These prototypes featured Pistachio or Sherbet from Turkey, Dulce de Leche or Limonada de Coco from Latin America, Pumpkin Spice or Red Velvet from the USA, Taro or Pandan from Thailand, Matcha Tea or Wasabi from Japan, etc.
Here’s an inside look at how PROVA flavor innovators have traveled the globe, explored the “Routes of tastes” and uncovered how different countries have adapted standard global brands to local taste preferences. Our travels revealed inspiring ingredients that we have transformed into new flavor ideas for a vast range of applications.
First stop: TURKEY
This region’s “taste ambassador” is pistachio. These buttery nuts are common in bakery, dairy and confectionery products, including Turkish Delight candy (Loukoum), one of the world’s most delectable sweets.
Heritage of the Ottoman, it is said to be part of the three major cuisines in the world (Turkish, Chinese, and French). This rich mixture and refinement of Balkan, Middle Eastern and Central Asian cuisines have dazzled visitors for centuries.
With names like sütlac, tavuk gögsü, kazandibi, helva, asure, mostly dairy Turkish sweets made their fame around the world, but the best-known are still "baklava" and "kadayif" pastries, which have become the flagship of Turkish culture.
Turkish hot beverages are also a source of inspiration. We are no stranger to the Turkish coffee—this thick and black small cup, served with or without sugar. It is considered part of the national drinks along with the various Turkish teas, such as ayran, shira, salgam, sahlep and boza.
PROVA flavor innovators traveled back to their labs with suitcases filled with modern expressions of these traditional tastes. After months of development, the team finally got back to the roots of Turkish Tastes and PROVA is now able to offer flavorings that carry the typical* taste of:
• Turkish coffee
• Rose Loukoum
* All Turkish palate certified.
Second stop: LATIN AMERICA
This region’s taste ambassador is Dulce de Leche, which is literally translated as “candy of milk.” This confection—said to have originated in Argentina—has become extremely popular throughout Latin America.
There is not one Latin American cuisine but many, all influenced by the fusions from Native American, African, Spanish, Italian, French, German, Chinese and Japanese cuisines. Geographic and climatic conditions also imprinted the core of Latin cuisine.
Before this vast array of tastes, and the multiple Latin American routes leading to their roots, the PROVA team has looked into the common sweets that animated deeply this continent. The uncontested, master of all desserts quickly imposed itself as a loud echo on each and every Latin culture and as far back as Europe.
Dulce de Leche is the essence of Latin American sweet foods. From Mexico all the way to the Tierra del Fuego, this milky caramel punctuates life at every stage. We have tasted it in homes, on street corners, in chef’s creations, even in other countries such as the USA or Canada. This simple recipe has a lot of names, and its composition can vary from one country to another. Dulce de Leche in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia, it is made from caramelized cow milk, sugar and vanilla; Manjar in Chile and Peru, it has different kinds of shades; Arequipe in Colombia and Venezuela, a dash of salt makes the difference; Cajeta in Mexico, it is the strongest of all, with goat milk; and finally the simplest version is the one from Brazil, the “doce de leite” only blending cow milk and sugar.
PROVA offers a wide range of deeply rooted Latin flavorings, such as:
1. The famous Dulce de Leche and all its regional variations
2. Alfajor, a sweet cookie filled with Dulce de Leche, coated with chocolate
3. Lucuma, a nutritious fruit from Peru
4. Chicha morada, a purplish-black beverage inherited from the Inca made from boiled maíz morado (purple corn)
5. Limonada de coco, a Colombian coconut limeade, made from coconut and lime
6. Chancaca Syrup, typical Peruvian, Bolivian, and Chilean sweet sauce made of raw unrefined sugar from sugar cane
7. Rompope, a Central American eggnog-like alcohol, made with eggs, milk, and vanilla
The wonders of Latin American sweet foods do not have secrets for PROVA anymore.
Third stop: USA
This country’s taste ambassador is peanut butter. A staple of the American homes (about 75%), peanut butter is a paste made primarily from ground dry roasted peanuts.
Different waves of immigrants, including those still arriving today on US shores, have influenced its cuisine. This rich and varied blend of peoples, religions, and cultures, this diversity has brought new culinary traditions and prompted new comers to adapt them to the ingredients they had available, making up the real food Melting Pot that characterizes the "American food."
Overall, the USA/North American cuisine displays influences from Native American, Jewish, Asian, and especially European cuisines.
Our trip felt a bit like riding the Historic Route 66 from Chicago to California. Our team discovered the unconditional love of Americans for all types of nut flavors, Pecan, Roasted Almonds, Hazelnut, Peanut, Coconut, with a strong craving for Peanut butter.
This latter motivates heated debates (creamy versus chunky) and people appear to have opinions in this matter. Peanut has been consumed for centuries, but peanut butter found its way in the American pantries after WWI and became, by the mid-20th century, a real staple used in all kind of foods. Peanuts had finally stopped being a slave food or a nuisance.
What would Americans become without their bakery, their signature cakes and pies?
Banana Foster, Key Lime Pie, Donuts, Brownie, Carrot Cake, Red Velvet, Cookies, so many names that seduce our sweet tooth. Many bakery inspired flavors are already on the market in many food and beverage categories. This represents a strong marketing trend, especially in “cross-categories migration” for bakery and beverage-inspired products.
Our journey with Uncle Sam did take a year as American tastes are also widely determined, and logically so, by “seasons.” Indeed seasonal tastes can depend on natural cycles (the climatic four seasons) or holidays such as Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day or Easter.
Fall landscape is filled with Apple pie, Pecan pie, Caramel Apple and Pumpkin Spice scent, winter snow brings in Peppermint bark, Maple syrup and Gingerbread, spring sprouts make Birthday cake and cotton candy blossom everywhere and the summer sun is drenched by Root beer and cooled by Creamsicles.
The American sweet food traditions have fueled PROVA flavor innovators’ creativity, allowing them to offer a complete panel of American taste that fit the applications they are intended for.
Fourth stop: East and Southeast Asia
This region’s taste ambassador is Matcha. A finely-ground powder of special type of green tea, Matcha is rich in antioxidants is an integral element of the traditional Japanese tea ceremony.
Asia is a vast continent with one of the world’s most diverse cuisines. Instead of wandering off its 44 579 000 km² and more than 4.3 billion people, PROVA’s team explored what lies East and South East.
The Eastern part composed of Japan, Korea, China and Taiwan is mainly characterized by staple ingredients such as beans and tea in their sweets. Our journey took us to the path of the “Teas” which tend to become a large trend in flavoring foods. Green tea, and more importantly Matcha tea, rule as masters. To spicy up our discoveries in traditional “Junk”, Japanese Wasabi comes surprisingly handy when flavoring biscuits or chocolate bars. Mind your tongue!
The Southeastern countries are imprinted with sweeter tones of tamarind, lemon grass, taro (light purple colour corm with a sweet nutty flavour), coconut and pandan (palm-like tree whose leaves are used to flavour and colour cakes). Desserts are traditionally milder, made of sticky rice, noodles, coconut milk, coconut sugar, banana, egg yolk, agar-agar and rice flour. In this abundance of sweet foods, PROVA has yet to grasp the entire Southeastern tastes palette, and is still gathering information.
PROVA was created in 1946 and remains an independent family-owned business. Its headquarters are located in Montreuil, near Paris in France.
46 rue Colmet-Lépinay
Tel: +33 1 48 18 17 20