Regional food brands and quality labels have received a lot of interest among the FRIDGE partnership. In this article we will present two more examples of regional food brands and labels in FRiDGE regions: the Szekler Product Trademark from Harghita, Romania and the Food Province Label from South Ostrobothnia, Finland.
Promotion of local food
In most cases regional food trademarks or brands are used to promote food products within the region. Here the appreciation of local food is at core. Gathering the local products under the same brand helps consumers to choose local over global.
These kinds of brands are highly valuable also for the tourism sector. Food tourism is a rising trend all over the world and tourists are becoming more and more aware about the food and drinks they consume while travelling. They want to experience the places also by tasting.
The activities to promote the local products vary from brand to another depending on the resources behind. Most brands have their own websites and social media channels to promote the local products. Participation in events and food fairs is also a popular way to increase the visibility and promote local products and some may even have shops dedicated promoting the local food.
The Szekler Product Trademark from Harghita County, Romania
The FRIDGE project partner, Harghita County Council has been running The Promotion of the Szekler Products programme since 2009. Within the programme several local and traditional fairs and events are regularly organized to offer a possibility for the local producers to promote their products and for the population to consume and buy local and healthy food and products. Through the programme local products are also brought to international fairs and exhibitions, with the aim of developing successful international partnerships.
Harghita County Council’s initiative is a good example of how people in a community can overcome unfavourable global processes by creating a common and unique trademark for the products produced at local level. With the introduction of the Szekler product trademark, the Council of Harghita County wishes to serve and keep the rich and lively agricultural traditions, as well as to guarantee the market access of quality and healthy Szekler foods.
Nowadays more than 150 producers with more than 1000 products have the right to use the trademark in present. In order to support the local producers in the process of selling products online, the website www.szekelytermek.ro was developed. By selling the Szekler product trademark and delivering the products to domestic and foreign chain stores, they are able to put the roots of their work at the table of European consumers. Combined with tourism, Szekler products are popular in domestic and foreign trade fairs, and they create new local product processing plants in Szeklerland.
Food Province Label from South Ostrobothnia, Finland
In South Ostrobothnia the actors within the food value chain have started to promote the region as the Food Province of Finland for several years now. The idea of Food Province is well established in the strategic level and various development projects along the years have been directed to strengthen the region’s competences as a Food Province. Along with promoting the competences in agriculture and food processing, food tourism has always played a big part in the development activities.
During 2018 and 2019 the Food Province brand was further developed in a pilot project funded under an Interreg Europe project NICHE. In the pilot project the brand identity was updated and an operational model for its use was developed. At the core of the development was that the new brand should be appealing for consumers both inside and outside the regions, but that the brand could also be usable in wider promotion of the region and its food sector.
The new updated Food Province Label was then published in late 2019 and is now managed by the Rural Women’s Advisory Association who is one of the key support organisations within the region’s food sector focusing especially on promoting local food production and local food and culinary traditions.
The Food Province Label is open for all actors within the food value chain from R&D organisations to food and drink producing companies and restaurants. Since the publishing seven (7) restaurants, three (3) food producing SMEs and six (6) support organisations have been approved as members of the label. The criteria for food producers and restaurants comprise of three steps:
- Assured quality -> need to comply national quality standards
- Origin from the Region -> the products need to be produced in the region and be made of local ingredients as much as possible
- Making things together -> the actor shares the common regional identity and wants to cooperate with others
There is a yearly membership fee for the label varying from 400 to 900 euros. More info: www.ruokaprovinssi.fi