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$1.4 Million Investment in a New Research Program on the Food Science Behind Maple Syrup

The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers (FPAQ) and the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies (FRQNT) announce the launch of the Research Partnership Program on the Food Science Behind Maple – The Physical Chemistry of Cooking with Maple. Conceived by the FPAQ, the program, with an overall budget of $1.4 million over five years, aims to promote development of knowledge on the physicochemical and sensory attributes of maple products, and to highlight the flavour chemistry of maple and how its taste harmonizes with ingredients from the world's cuisines.

by Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers
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bottled maple syrupA $1.4 million investment over five years, aims to promote development of knowledge on the physicochemical and sensory attributes of maple products, and to highlight the flavour chemistry of maple and how its taste harmonizes with ingredients from the world's cuisines.Miguel Andrade, Wikimedia CommonsSerge Beaulieu, President of the FPAQ, stresses the importance of the Federation's commitment to research, innovation, promotion and market development of maple products, both domestically and internationally, "Quebec maple producers believe in the importance of developing knowledge on the food science behind maple products. Since 2005, we have injected millions of dollars according to a structured plan. We are now at the stage where our investments will go towards fully understanding maple's culinary characteristics to facilitate its integration into the world's cuisines," he explains. "The FPAQ will invest $900,000 over five years in this new research program in partnership with the FRQNT. The FRQNT has also played a pioneering role in recognizing the issues raised by the FPAQ on the importance of developing knowledge in food science so that Quebec maple products can take advantage of underlying trends in the global culinary market."

"More than just another traditional product, maple syrup is one of the cultural elements associated with Quebecers around the world and a part of their identity. It is also one of the star ingredients of Quebec and international cuisine in the 21st century," adds Maryse Lassonde, Scientific Director of the FRQNT. "This uniquely flavoured product and its derivatives have food properties that require further research from experts in the physical chemistry field. As part of this research partnership program, the FRQNT will provide a grant of $100,000 per year for five years, for a total of $500,000."

The development of new markets depends on the research results

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The FPAQ–FRQNT partnership is part of the New Generation of Maple: 2020 strategy, implemented by the FPAQ in 2009 with contribution from the maple syrup industry. "Our vision is at the heart of this strategy: to raise maple to the level of a value-added product, with numerous applications," explains Genevieve C. Béland, Director of Promotion, Innovation and Market Development at the FPAQ. "Les Produits d'érable du Québec are preparing to invest in a number of foreign markets with diverse culinary cultures and the results of this research will help us develop bespoke maple-based culinary ideas for each of these new markets. In addition, the knowledge gathered could lead to a world first: creation of a credit course on maple gastronomy for professionals. Finally, we hope that by introducing maple to kitchens around the world, the cuisine of Quebec will become better known on an international scale."

Eight areas of research targeting the global use of maple water and its derivatives

The Research Partnership Program encourages scientific collaboration between local and international academic researchers, companies and users of the research results. The program's eight areas of research on maple, detailed below, are designed to advance knowledge on maple water, syrup, taffy, butter, sugar, flakes and alcohols derived from fermenting maple water. After this research, food professionals will have gained valuable knowledge and will be able to optimize use of these products.

Here are the Program's eight areas of maple research:

  1. Knowledge to develop a maple products classification system for food professionals
  2. Physical chemistry of the caramelization and Maillard reactions observed in maple sugars and in cooking with maple
  3. Compared behaviour of pure sucrose and maple sugar in common culinary techniques (mousses, sauces, marinades, broths, etc.) and international culinary techniques
  4. The chemistry of "perfect harmony" in maple-based cuisine (identification, measurement, physicochemical studies, etc.)
  5. Exploration and modelling the physical chemistry of maple flavour development and analysis of the flavour harmonies with international cuisine ingredients
  6. Study of maple flavour perception according to taste receptor environment
  7. The technical health limits of using maple sugar in cooking
  8. Maple in future cuisines (crystallization, fermentation, caramelization, extraction, maceration, etc.)

The call for proposals will be available on the FRQNT's website at the end of summer 2015.