In the province of East-Flanders, 97 markets, spread over 48 municipalities, are being organised on a weekly basis. A strong and mutual collaboration between local business, restaurants, cafés and the market amplifies the commercial attractiveness of a village, and thus it draws more visitors. That’s why ECEF’s “Buy local” campaign wanted to put these weekly markets in the spotlight during the Week of the Market, from October 5 till October 11 2020.

ECEF and the economy department of the province East-Flanders wanted to pay extra attention to the social experiences on the market with special actions and side activities. Not less than 26 local authorities participated in the first Week of the Market. ECEF uses a food truck, which was present on the markets in order to promote delicious products that are part of the ‘Tasteful East-Flanders’ network. For example, we put the following products in the spotlight on the market in Deinze: mustard from Machelen, Filliers jenever and local, seasonal vegetables and saffron from Nevele. In Waasmunster, on the other side of the province, we promoted producers such as Balerdon (who makes chocolate noses) from Sint-Niklaas, ‘t Eikenhof (goat cheese) and fruitsappen Verhofstede (fruit juices), both from Lokeren.

Throughout the week we provided at least 1000 goodie bags with samples to taste the local products and with leaflets from the local producers, Tasteful East-Flanders and the Great Butchers’ Hall, our own promotional centre for regional food products.

Customers could also collect stamps by buying local products on different market stalls. Once they collected three stamps, they had a chance of winning a nice price, for example a cosy dinner in a local restaurant, an overnight stay in a hotel or a basket filled with East-Flemish products. Approximately 90.000 stamp cards were distributed. Also, by sharing a picture on social media, using #DoeLokaal, people could win one of these prices.

The reaction of the local stall keepers and the municipalities were very positive. ‘Thanks to the different actions, people were even more eager to buy something from local producers. If it were up to us, this could as well as an annual event!’ claim the local authorities of the East-Flemish city Zulte. We share the same thought and we hope to bring this initiative back to the markets in the Autumn of 2021!