Saigoneer

BackEat & Drink » Food Culture » Japanese Firms Are Training Flavor Experts to Better Understand Southeast Asian Tastes

Hungry for a piece of Southeast Asia’s rapidly expanding market, Japanese food companies are turning to flavorists and other experts to learn more about the region’s food preferences.

Masaya Tanno, leader of global chemical flavoring company T. Hasegawa’s Bangkok unit, recently told Nikkei Asian Review about his firm's quest to understand the differences in Japanese and Thai flavorings. Through research, Tanno and his colleagues have learned that Thai consumers tend to think Japan's matcha-flavored products taste like seaweed, for instance, or that Thailand's mango flavoring is much sweeter than its Japanese counterpart, an important difference for food companies hoping to appeal to Southeast Asian consumers.

In order to better understand these subtle distinctions, T. Hasegawa relies upon local experts to guide its Japanese food chemists.

"Only local staff can discover new flavors that fit the regional preference," a company representative told the news source.

Tanno’s unit is always on the prowl for new snacks and drinks, especially locally inspired ones with flavors like ground pork or green papaya salad. The firm is also hoping to tap into the halal food market in countries with a significant Muslim population such as Indonesia and Malaysia. Since research has also shown that Filipinos are becoming increasingly more health-conscious, the company is now looking into fruit flavors that give a sharp, refreshing and natural taste.

Japanese flavor experts have recently turned their attention to Southeast Asia because of the stagnant growth at home due to a shrinking and aging population. Southeast Asian markets, on the other hand, are thriving thanks to a ballooning middle class and growing interest in Japanese culture and cuisine.

At T. Hasegawa, regional staff are flown to Singapore, where they will receive three months of intensive training to become flavorists. After that, they return to their home country to work with local clients to turn their hometown’s most popular flavors into snacks and beverages.

Takasago, another top flavoring firm from Japan, currently employs 20 flavorists in Southeast Asia.

"It's difficult to reach an understanding with clients when it comes to taste," a company representative told Nikkei. "It's a challenge to identify subtle nuances and match exactly what the clients are looking for."

[Photo via Nomad Is Beautiful]


Related Articles:

Ice Cream Wars: Japan's Frozen Treat Makers Take on European Firms in Southeast Asia Market

[Photos] You Can Now Have Japan's Mouthwatering Fake Food on Your Phone

Ben Tre Company Eyes International Vietnamese Coconut Water Sales


Related Articles

in Food Culture

'Trendy' Elephant Poop Coffee Taking off in Vietnam

Vietnam is known for its cafe chồn, coffee beans that are ingested, pooped out by weasels and sold at prices far higher than the normal variety. Now, a Vietnamese breeder is adopting a similar techniq...

in Food Culture

20 Vietnamese Foods You Need to Try Now

Uyen Luu, author of My Vietnamese Kitchen and contributor to Jamie Oliver’s FoodTube, shares her favorite Vietnamese dishes and how to cook them.

in Food Culture

30% of Coffee in Vietnam Has No Caffeine: Survey

If you've been seeking out cà phê sữa đá from street carts for a super-caffeinated start to your workday, you might want to look elsewhere, as there’s a chance you've been drinking coffee-flavore...

in Food Culture

5 Of Saigon’s Best Markets

When people think of Saigon, the iconic Bến Thành Market usually comes to mind. But while it’s rich in history, for locals, it’s little more than a tourist attraction. Vietnam Coracle recently took to...

in Food Culture

7 Of Vietnam’s Most Expensive Traditional Dishes

As Vietnam’s cities develop, there are plenty of restaurants that offer up dishes at international (read: expensive) prices. While Vietnamese food is generally considered cheap, there are a few notabl...

in Food Culture

70% of D1's Street Food Vendors Don't Meet Food Safety Standards: Report

The majority of District 1’s street vendors do not comply with health standards, according to a recent report, but the situation has improved since 2015.

Video »

BUDX HCMC