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More than a century has passed since 1896 when Johann Heinrich Franck and Robert Franck established a factory in Pardubice to produce substitutes for classic coffee – chicory and cereal coffee – as part of the Franck multinational concern.

The main ingredient, dried chicory, was imported from Holland. J. Franck brought chicory growing to the Labe lowlands, thus introducing a new line of business to Czech agriculture, the drying business. After developing the products of drying companies were exported to Croatia, Italy, Romania and Switzerland. The widespread domestic growing of chicory resulted in lower prices of coffee substitutes, which were therefore highly favoured and, in the period between the two world wars, they could be found in almost every household.

The best known was “Franck's Genuine Coffee Supplement”, Franckovka for short, which came in oval red packets or brown boxes. Under the name “Karo-Franck” it was sold in the form of cubes. Another favourite was a rye coffee called “Perola.” The trademark of the Pardubice coffee substitutes was a coffee grinder. It was used to label the products and company documents, and in neon form it could be seen from a great distance on the factory building. In addition there were two other registered trademarks, a teapot and a walking lion carrying a cup of coffee and a spoon on its back. The trademarks were discontinued after 1948.

The company achieved impressive success in the 1930s. After the war it was run by a national administration and then KÁVOVINY, a nationalised company, was established incorporating ten production facilities which, by the end of the 1950s, became separate national companies. When, in 1958, the independent KÁVOVINY Pardubice Company was set up, the search for a new product line resulted in the production of the first Czechoslovak breakfast cereal called Kalorka. It made use of only domestic ingredients such as rye, barley, chicory, sugar beat, oat flakes, sugar and oil. In the 1960s, after the merger of two national companies, KÁVOVINY Pardubice and VITANA Byšice, the production of coffee substitutes, extracts and parboiled rice was expanded to cover the production program of puffed products such as puffed rice and maize. Next the production of baking powders and vanillin sugar was launched, followed by Vitakáva and Melta coffee, rye coffee, Sladovka and the Karo supplement. The following decade witnessed the production of instant cocoa, oat flakes and sherbet powder.

Franck’s company could always boast high-quality products. Prosperity and good prices made coffee substitutes, notably white coffee, a common drink among all classes of society. The founders of the company and their successors were quick to grasp the effects of good advertising and customers could come across, perhaps in all the newspapers and magazines of the period, their advertising slogans and catchwords such as: “Perola with genuine Pardubice Franckovka is as good for you as your daily bread.”

The company’s modern history began to be written in 1991 when the Pardubice division (ZÁVOD 03) separated from VITANA Byšice, which led to the formation of KÁVOVINY a.s. Pardubice. Since then, the joint-stock company has been characterised by extensive modernisation of the plant and its equipment. Major investment in new technologies included the purchase of process technology equipment supplied by the German company ALLGAIER a fluid dehydrator-granulator for instantly making Vitakáva (instant coffee). Three years later there was a new computer-operated cereal roaster of PETRONCINI from Italy equipped with a perfect combustion of flue gas. The modern machine reduced the characteristic smell of cereals being roasted, which for generations used to waft from time to time into the streets of Pardubice. We also installed a new line for producing flavoured Burisons-Arizons (puffed rice). In 1995-6 we reintroduced the dehydrating process of chicory and sugar beat, which also meant that we re-entered into cooperation with local farmers and growers. The most stable products are Melta, a substitute for coffee, and Vitakáva in the form of extract.

The year 1997 saw many changes and enhancements when pressure from competition and multinational chains induced the company to enlarge its product line into new areas. The first ones were rice and dry mixes, the most impressive being mixes to prepare traditional Czech buchtas (filled buns) or the completion of the so-called “heavy foodstuffs” line with lentils, peas, beans and salt as well as putting into operation a new line for producing mustard. A line producing granulated extracts was newly installed in order to gradually modernise the existing product line for coffee substitutes. A new packaging process technology line was bought and installed successfully to package “heavy foods”, i.e. large-volume bags, which resulted in a dramatic improvement in bulk sales.

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