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Innovations in Traditional Foods

Innovations in Traditional Foods

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Innovations in Traditional Foods

803 pagine
9 ore
Jan 9, 2019


Innovations in Traditional Foods addresses the most relevant topics of traditional foods while placing emphasis on the introduction of innovations and consumer preferences. Certain food categories, such as fruits, grains, nuts, seeds, grains and legumes, vegetables, mushrooms, roots and tubers, table olives and olive oil, wine, fermented foods and beverages, fish, meat, milk and dairy products are addressed. Intended for food scientists, technologists, engineers and chemists working in food science, product developers, SMEs, researchers, academics and professionals, this book provides a reference supporting technological advances, product development improvements and potential positioning in the traditional food market.

  • Addresses the most relevant topics of traditional foods while placing emphasis on the introduction of innovations and consumer preferences
  • Provides a reference supporting technological advances, product development improvements, and potential positioning in the traditional food market
  • Contains coverage of various food categories, including fruits, grains, nuts, seeds, grains and legumes, vegetables, mushrooms, roots and tubers, table olives and olive oil, wine, fermented foods and beverages, fish, meat, and milk and dairy products
Jan 9, 2019

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Innovations in Traditional Foods - Elsevier Science



Charis M. Galanakis¹,², ¹Food Waste Recovery Group, ISEKI Food Association, Vienna, Austria, ²Research & Innovation Department, Galanakis Laboratories, Chania, Greece

Traditional foods are of high social importance in numerous countries around the world, being a part of their culture, identity, gastronomic heritage, and economic growth. Indeed, they contribute to the development, diversification, and sustainability of many rural areas, allowing a clear product differentiation for their producers and manufacturers, providing a greater food variety to final consumers, ensuring income for locals, and ultimately protecting them from depopulation. Traditional food producers are typically small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) that daily, face the challenge of improving safety, health, and convenience of their products according to the market demands. These companies are increasingly under pressure due to the opening of markets, the rising importance of large retailers, as well as conforming to governmental regulations.

Nowadays, consumers are increasingly demanding traditional, local, and organic foods, as food scandals and the conflicts on the production of genetically modified foods undermine public confidence and make them skeptic with regard to modern industrial food producing. Nevertheless, consumers not only ask for tastier, safer, more convenient, and healthier traditional foods that fit better with the current way of living in modern societies, but also demand standardized and low price products. The increased demands of our times put many traditional foods at risk, as well as traditional processing techniques still available today. To economically survive and be sustainable in these modern consumer markets, SMEs producing traditional foods must extend their skills and production techniques as well as find innovative ways to promote the characteristics and clear advantages of their products related to nutrition and health.

This is happening either by introducing minor modifications to their century-old recipes or by introducing innovations that maintain and even expand their market in a highly competitive and globalized environment. However, many of the technologies used in the production of traditional foods still rely on traditional production practices with low competitiveness and low efficiency. Thus, there is a clear lack of innovation in this sector, although a number of opportunities have not yet been adequately addressed. One of the main disadvantages that may result from implementation of innovations in traditional foods is the fact that the innovation itself could make them lose their traditional character, which in turn could cause them to lose their competitive advantage and the added value provided to consumers. The latter shows a certain resistance to adopt innovations, especially when they are associated with sophisticated technologies. This resistance is even more pronounced in the case of traditional foods. Subsequently, there is a need for a new guide providing solutions, ideas, and innovations in this sector.

Over the last 4 years, Food Waste Recovery Group ( of ISEKI Food Association has organized a series of activities (webinars, workshops, e-course etc.) and published books dealing with issues of sustainable food systems, innovations in the food industry, food waste recovery, and nonthermal processing, as well as targeting functional compounds like polyphenols. Following the above advances, the current book provides a reference for SMEs producing traditional foods, supporting them with regard to technological advances, product development improvements, and potential positioning in the traditional food market. The ultimate goal is to support the scientific community, knowledge transfer agents, professionals and enterprises that aspire to introduce and develop innovations in traditional food products.

The book consists of 11 chapters. Chapter 1 provides an introduction to traditional foods, for example, definitions, geographical differences, designation of origin labeling, and consumer perceptions. The chapter shows that the interrelation between both food innovation and food tradition is much more complex than often assumed by the public and played out by contemporary food marketing. To illustrate multidimensionality of traditional foods and intricate dynamics as social and historical constructions (e.g., relying on heritagization moments), Chapter 2 presents three case products (meat, bread, and tea). In that order, they represent foods that cover vastly different time-scales of consumption, with their origins in the Western world historically dating back to the Paleolithic, the Neolithic, and Early Modernity. As such, they demonstrate that tradition and innovation are mutually constitutive, with tradition feeding into innovation and vice versa. Chapter 3 covers consumers’ perspectives about innovations in traditional foods, using Mind Genomics. The latest has been implemented to identify consumer segments based on their mind-sets, or with other words, the way people see the world. Since modern food industries are increasingly choosing to enhance internal idea development by exploiting external knowledge and paths to market, Chapter 4 provides an overview of open innovation approach as it could be implemented in the case of traditional foods.

The rest of the chapters of the book deal with innovations in certain traditional foods. For instance, Chapter 5 discusses the case of fruits and vegetables, providing consumer insights, market perspectives, and health benefits of increased vegetable consumption, as well as production and business strategies for SMEs and distributors. Chapter 6 provides a comprehensive overview about the sourdough microbiota, as this has been described so far by both conventional and omics approaches, as well as its functionality with regards to the technological properties (e.g., texture, flavor, shelf-life, and nutritional value) of bread. Chapter 7 denotes innovations and challenges of tropical roots and tuber crops, whereas Chapter 8 deals with the olive oil sector, highlighting the prospects of utilizing bioactive compounds of olive fruit in nutrition, human health, and wellness. Recommendations based on the current situation are provided, using sector’s competitive advantages and keeping in mind not to lose its traditional nature. Chapter 9 describes traditional fermented foods and beverages from around the world, including their microbiology, their production technology, properties in nutrition, their effects in health and disease, and their future perspectives in this context as drivers of a healthy diet in view of developing innovative products, too. For instance, it highlights the use of a starter culture without decarboxylase activity for the reduction of biogenic amines formation in fermented products. Chapter 10 deals particularly with this problem in the wine sector by proposing innovative strategies to diminish amine formation. Finally, Chapter 11 focuses on the meat industry by proposing ways to improve quality and stability of traditional meat snacks and to launch novel products with enhanced nutritional value, functional attributes, more convenient packaging, and improved sensory properties.

Conclusively, the book fills the gap existing in the current literature by dealing with innovations of traditional foods with an integral point of view (background, consumer preferences, and new applications). It addresses food scientists and nutrition researchers working with food applications and food processing as well as those who are interested in the development of innovative products. It could also be purchased by university libraries and institutes all around the world in order to be used as a textbook and/or ancillary reading in undergraduates and postgraduate level multidiscipline courses dealing with food science, processing, and technology.

At this point, I would like to thank all the authors of the book for their participation in this collaborative reference that brings together several traditional topics in one comprehensive text toward innovations in the field. They accepted my invitation and followed the editorial guidelines, the book’s concept, and timeline. All these actions conclude a great honor for me and are highly appreciated. I consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to collaborate with so many experts from Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Hungary, Greece, India, Italy, Spain, The Netherlands, Turkey, and the United States. I would also like to thank the acquisition editor Megan Ball, the book’s manager Jacklyn Truesdell, and Elsevier’s production team for their help during the editing and publishing process.

Moreover, I would like to express my gratitude to Food Waste Recovery Group that indicated relevant experts and provided us with information regarding traditional foods and innovations. Last but not least, a message for you, the reader. Those collaborative projects of dozens thousands words may always contain errors and gaps. Any instructive comments or criticism are and always will be welcome. Therefore, please do not hesitate to contact me in order to discuss any issues of the book.

Chapter 1


Machiel J. Reinders¹, Marija Banovic² and Luis Guerrero³,    ¹Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen Economic Research, The Hague, The Netherlands,    ²MAPP Centre, Department of Management, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark,    ³IRTA—Food Technology Center, Finca Camps i Armet, Monells, Spain


Traditional foods are defined as food products of which (1) the key production steps are performed in a certain area at national, regional or local level, (2) are authentic in their recipe (mix of ingredients), origin of raw material, and/or production process, (3) are commercially available for about 50 years, and (4) are part of the gastronomic heritage. This chapter provides an introduction to traditional foods, for example, definitions of traditional foods, specific aspects of traditional food products like geographical differences, designation of origin labeling and the traditional character, followed by an introduction to innovations in traditional foods. In addition, it focuses on consumer perceptions of traditional foods. Finally, it provides a brief introduction to consumer acceptance of (traditional) food innovations and possibilities for the introduction of innovations in traditional food products.


Traditional foods; designation of origin labels; consumer perceptions; innovation; consumer acceptance

1.1 Introduction

The 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage and recent Special Eurobarometer 466 (European Commission, 2017) shows that more than half of Europeans are involved in the field of cultural heritage or traditional activities. Although the most common forms of involvement in cultural heritage are visits to monumental sites, museums, festivals, or by living in a historic environment or city, about 8% of these people also actively engage in traditional activities like traditional cooking. It is therefore not surprising that an important role in cultures and traditions is played by traditional foods (Weichselbaum et al., 2009). They include foods that have been consumed locally or regionally for an extended time period. Traditional foods reflect and protect a culture’s gastronomic heritage in people’s daily diets and are part of a culture’s identity. As such, it is evident that traditional foods form very important foundations for families and social relationships, in which ultimate satisfaction with food goes beyond sensory perceptions alone, but is also a matter of shared identities (Ayxela, 2014; Cayot, 2007).

In addition to its cultural importance, traditional foods are also of high economic and social importance in many countries. For the production of traditional foods, typically local products are used. Cultivation and commercialization of local products contribute to the development, diversification, and sustainability of many rural areas (Trichopoulou et al., 2007). For example, local or traditional food can play an important role in the sustainable tourism experience because it appeals to tourists’ desire for authenticity within the holiday experience (Sims, 2009). In addition, production of traditional foods protects rural areas from depopulation and generates employment. To illustrate, the traditional food sector accounts for over 70% of the total employment generated by the European food industry (Guerrero et al., 2016).

In the last few decades, both food companies and consumers have shown a growing interest in local foods and foods with a traditional character (Pieniak et al., 2009; Trichopoulou et al., 2007; Vanhonacker et al., 2013). Consumer demand for these products may be a counter-reaction toward globalization and the industrialization of food production (Fernández-Ferrín et al., 2018; Jordana, 2000). The tendency of consumers to return to their roots has become a strong force in all European countries; and the consumption of foods that are considered homemade and offer distinctive value based on local content increasingly adds meaning to consumers’ lives (Steenkamp and de Jong, 2010). As such, Steenkamp and de Jong (2010, p. 20) state that consumers have a preference for locally produced products as a beacon to survive in a rapidly changing world in which old certainties seem to crumble and new cultural influences are feared or rejected. Furthermore, traditional foods are often perceived as having a higher quality (Chambers et al., 2007) and being more sustainable (Risku-Norja et al., 2008). These perceptions will be discussed later on in this chapter.

However, on the other hand, the accelerating trend toward an integrated global food market could also mean that food producers feel forced to move from their traditionally developed foods to a global approach, in which they develop their products in order to be marketed on a global level (Steenkamp and de Jong, 2010). In addition, increased consumer demands for nutritional and healthy food put at risk many traditional foods as well as traditional processing techniques still available today (Banović et al., 2018). Extending or developing skills and production techniques to promote the nutritional and health aspects of their products allow traditional food producers (which consists typically of small and medium sized enterprises—SMEs) to maintain or expand their market shares and/or profitability in a highly competitive and globalized food market (Stewart-Knox and Mitchell, 2003). Jordana (2000) already indicated that traditional foods have good prospects to grow in the future, if they would succeed in innovation. However, the traditional food sector faces the challenge in terms of a possible incongruence between the concept of traditional food and the concept of innovation (Guerrero et al., 2012; Vanhonacker et al., 2013). Innovations put at risk many traditional foods as well as traditional processing techniques still available today. As a consequence, the traditional food sector has to weigh improvements in the safety, health, and convenience of their products by means of different innovations against keeping the traditional character of their products.

Following these considerations, this book aims to provide a reference supporting the companies producing traditional food products with regard to technological advances, product development improvements, and potential positioning in the traditional food market. The ultimate goal is to support the scientific community, knowledge transfer agents, professionals, and enterprises that aspire to introduce and develop innovations in traditional food products. This introductory chapter first starts with providing definitions of traditional foods and traditional food products from a consumer perspective. Subsequently, a short elaboration will be provided on innovation in traditional foods. Additionally, since insights in consumers’ perceptions are imperative for a successful market introduction of innovations in traditional foods, this chapter closes with two sections that focus on consumer acceptance of innovations in general and consumer acceptance of innovations in traditional foods in particular.

1.2 Definition of Traditional Foods

Literature provides several definitions of traditional foods. According to Bertozzi (1998) a traditional food product is a representation of a group, it belongs to a defined space, and it is part of a culture that implies the cooperation of the individuals operating in that territory (see also Pieniak et al., 2009, p. 102). Jordana (2000, p. 147) derived from this definition the following: In order to be traditional, a product must be linked to a territory and it must also be part of a set of traditions, which will necessarily ensure its continuity over time. The fact that traditional foods are linked to both a certain territory and a particular tradition, is also resonated in another definition of traditional foods that has been developed through the work of the EuroFIR Network of Excellence and looks at the specific features that are distinguishing these foods from other similar foods within the same category (Weichselbaum et al., 2009). Traditional foods are determined and defined by the particular use of traditional ingredients (i.e., raw materials of primary products) which have been used in identified geographical areas (and remain in use), the traditional composition (in terms of ingredients), and the traditional type of production and/or processing method that has been passed down through generations. Based on all these definitions, more recently, the following definition was derived: Traditional food products are food products of which (1) the key production steps are performed in a certain area at national, regional or local level, (2) are authentic in their recipe (mix of ingredients), origin of raw material, and/or production process, (3) are commercially available for about 50 years, and (4) are part of the gastronomic heritage (Gellynck and Kühne, 2008; Kühne et al., 2010, p. 629).

1.2.1 Geographical Differences

Geographical location is a necessary condition to classify certain food products as traditional food products; and traditional foods are key to differences in dietary patterns between countries and regions. There is a large diversity in the production of traditional foods in Europe and, in general, two different cultural food systems can be distinguished. On the one hand, there are the northern European countries where the number of foods that are traditionally produced is relatively small. On the other hand, there are the southern European countries with a relatively high amount of traditional food products (Jordana, 2000). Besides different climate conditions in the northern and the southern European countries, the reasons for this difference include a greater concentration of smaller food enterprises and a wider variety of production systems and end products in southern Europe, resulting in traditional products having a greater significance and economic weight (Jordana, 2000). As a consequence of this division, traditional food consumption is higher in southern Europe than in northern Europe.

Notwithstanding this two different cultural food systems of Europe, all European countries have their own specific food products that are linked with their culture and traditions. As we saw in the previous section, traditional foods refer to products that are made by specific traditional recipes known for a long time, with specific raw materials, and by using specific production processes (Cayot, 2007). As such, within countries or even within regions different food cultures could exist. The traditional cuisine of a country typically includes and reflects foods from different regions (Weichselbaum et al., 2009). For example, the stewed vegetable dish Ratatouille originates from the Provence in the south of France, whereas crêpes (i.e., thin pancakes) are originally from Brittany in the west of France. However, although they originate from specific geographic regions, both dishes are nowadays considered French traditional foods and are consumed throughout France. Likewise, Parmesan cheese and gorgonzola can be considered as typical types of Italian cheese, but are originally traditional foods from different regions.

In a globalized economy, these local and regional differences are increasingly dispersed to other regions or countries. As Europeans take pride in traditions not only from their own country but also from other European countries, traditional foods could actually become part of contemporary traditional diet, as they believe that this could improve their quality of life and sense of belonging to Europe (European Commission, 2017). A good example is the increased popularity of the Mediterranean diet in Northern and Western European countries, although the cultural representation is sometimes missing and only the best elements of Mediterranean meals are often selected (Phull, 2015). We indeed see that differences in dietary patterns between different geographical regions within Europe are narrowing (Trichopoulos and Lagiou, 2004).

Traditional foods from one country or region can be regarded as a novel food in another country or region. That is why EFSA defines traditional foods as a subset of novel foods when originally produced in another (non-European) country (Sjödin, 2016). As stated by Guerrero et al. (2009), a traditional product per se cannot always be exported since local products may lose all or an important part of their added values and feelings that may be conferred to their original place of manufacturing and/or distribution. Nevertheless, there are numerous examples of products in which the traditional character has been successfully exported, such as Parmesan cheese or Serrano ham among many others. Although the perception of these products may not be exactly the same in the new markets than in their original production area, an important part of their traditional character and associated values can still remain.

1.2.2 Designation of Origin Labels

Traditional foods carry the regional characteristics of the region they come from. Therefore, the European Union (EU) has created EU quality logos that not only can attest to the specific origin of food, but can also be used to promote and protect traditional foods (European Commission, 2017). Designation of origin labels (DOLs) aim to safeguard and protect traditional food products from imitators and provide them a competitive advantage (Chrysochou et al., 2012). As such, DOLs can be seen as a form of intellectual property (Krystallis et al., 2017). DOLs make it possible to create an association between food and beliefs about the territory and act as quality cues (Contini et al., 2016; Van der Lans et al., 2001). Furthermore, DOLs confer an image of authenticity to their consumers. Chrysochou et al. (2012) showed that DOLs indeed can reinforce loyalty to traditional food products.

To certify a traditional or local food with a DOL, the following prerequisites need to be in place: a geographic designation included in its name, a description of the product’s characteristics, an exact definition of the specific geographic area in which the product originates, evidence of the product’s origin, evidence of the authentic local production and/or processing and packaging methods, and scientific proof for the link between the quality of the product and its geographic origin (Krystallis et al., 2017). Three different types of DOLs can be distinguished:

1. the protected designation of origin (PDO),

2. the protected geographical indication (PGI), and

3. the traditional specialty guaranteed (TSG) (see Box 1.1 for further explanation of these three DOLs).

All DOL-certified foods are granted the same level of protection in all member states (EC Regulation 510/2006). As stated in the regulation, all registered DOLs are protected against:

1. direct or indirect use of the name for commercial purposes by noncovered products, which are comparable to the registered product;

2. any misuse of the location or the registered name, even if it is applied indirectly;

3. other indications on the packaging, advertisements, or documents that can give a false impression of the product’s origin; and

4. any other practice that can mislead consumers on the true origin of the product.

Box 1.1

Designation of Origin Labels (DOLs)

Protected designation of origin (PDO) identifies products that are produced, processed and prepared in a specific geographical area, using the recognized know-how of local producers and ingredients from the region concerned. These are products whose characteristics are linked to their geographical origin. They must adhere to a precise set of specifications and may bear the PDO logo.

Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) identifies products whose quality or reputation is linked to the place or region where it is produced, processed or prepared, although the ingredients used need not necessarily come from that geographical area. All PGI products must also adhere to a precise set of specifications and may bear the logo.

Traditional Specialty Guaranteed (TSG) identifies products of a traditional character, either in the composition or means of production, without a specific link to a particular geographical area.

Source: Website European Commission, Agriculture and rural development (

The EU quality scheme for PDO, PGI, and TSG includes over 3000 products ranging from wines and cheeses to fruits and vegetables, among others (European Commission, 2015a,b). Wines account for most of these products having 1302 PDO and 460 PGI certified products in the EU (European Commission, 2018b). There are also about 300 e-spirit drinks and aromatized wine products protected with geographical indications in the EU which are not included in the above number (European Commission, 2018c). Fig. 1.1 provides an overview of the number of registered PDO, PGI, and TSG agricultural products, excluding wine and e-spirit drinks.

Figure 1.1 Number of registered PDO, PGI, and TSG agricultural products by EU quality schemes, excluding wines and e-spirit drinks. PDO, Protected designation of origin; PGI, Protected geographical indication; TSG, Traditional specialty guaranteed; EU, European Union. Source: DOOR database European Commission, 2018a. DOOR (Database Of Origin & Registration) Database. 〈;jsessionid=pL0hLqqLXhNmFQyFl1b24mY3t9dJQPflg3xbL2YphGT4k6zdWn34%21-370879141〉, accessed March 2018.

Given the division between northern and southern Europe that was explained in the previous section, we also see that traditional foods certified with a DOL are predominantly concentrated in southern Europe (Krystallis et al., 2017, see Fig. 1.2). Of the total of 1590 products collected in the Database of Origin & Registration (DOOR) database (, 67% (1065 products) are located in Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, and Greece. In general, consumers in these European regions recognize and identify these products (Verbeke et al., 2012) and at the same time they perceive them positively and show a clear positive attitude toward them (Guerrero, 2001; Pérez-Elortondo et al., 2018). However, whereas the number of PDOs and PGIs in southern European countries continue to rise, the last few years a rise in the numbers of new DOLs originating in central and eastern EU countries can be observed. Furthermore, as can also be seen in Fig. 1.2, it appears that the less restrictive requirements for the PGI certification make this label a relatively more popular DOL among northern and western EU countries. According to Krystallis et al. (2017), there seems to be a different potential for the future growth of PGIs and PDOs between southern EU countries and northern, western, and eastern EU countries. PGIs seem to be more suitable in those parts of Europe in which industrialized and intensive food production and processing systems are historically present, whereas PDOs better suit the more small-scale, extensive production systems of southern Europe.

Figure 1.2 Number of registered PDO, PGI, and TSG agricultural products in the EU-27 per country (excluding wines and e-spirit drinks). PDO, Protected designation of origin; PGI, Protected geographical indication; TSG, Traditional specialty guaranteed; EU, European Union. Source: DOOR database European Commission, 2018a. DOOR (Database Of Origin & Registration) Database. 〈;jsessionid=pL0hLqqLXhNmFQyFl1b24mY3t9dJQPflg3xbL2YphGT4k6zdWn34%21-370879141〉, accessed March 2018.

In summary, PDOs and PGIs have a specific link to the region of origin, while the TSG logo actually highlights a traditional production process. These logos define and allow for easy recognition of the origin of traditional foods but also carry the authenticity of the ingredients or traditional production process. It’s worth mentioning in this context that TSG, PDO, and PGI logos are the third, fourth, and fifth most acknowledged logos after Fairtrade and organic farming logo across 27 European countries (European Commission, 2012). In addition, successful commercial applications of DOLs will help the local product travel together with the story behind its production outside the original area of production and spread awareness about the local society and its history, geography, and production traditions (Krystallis et al., 2017).

1.2.3 Traditional Character

If products are produced locally and have an identifiable geographical origin, they may be regarded as local or regional products, but not necessarily as traditional products. Next to geographical origin, tradition is a crucial element of traditional foods. Traditions are customs or habits transmitted from one generation to the next and each culture, group, or region has specific traditions. As already mentioned, the use of particular foods, ingredients, and food preparation methods may be traditions passed down through generations (Weichselbaum et al., 2009). This makes the traditional character as important as the geographical aspect of traditional foods. These traditions may be the consequence of agricultural habits and the availability of certain raw materials. For example, mountainous regions offer different resources compared to regions at lower altitudes, and regions with access to the sea usually have a higher availability of seafood compared to those further away from the sea. Also the cultural development and exchange of a region plays a role in the creation of traditions (Weichselbaum et al., 2009). Many European countries have experienced occupations by different cultures and these cultures left their culinary influences. The discovery of new parts of the world and the development of international trade and colonialism, opened the doors for food products that had not been previously available and affected the development of new traditional foods across Europe. A good example is potatoes, which are originally from South America, but imported into Europe in the 16th century and spread across Europe in the 18th century; and nowadays potatoes are the basis of many traditional dishes in Europe. Finally, traditional foods have also been influenced by religious habits and of certain regions, based on religions like Christianity, Islam, or Judaism.

The word tradition also carries a certain time indication. According to the EuroFIR scientific working group on traditional foods, traditional means conforming to established practice or specifications prior to World War II (Trichopoulou et al., 2007). The time indication (prior to the World War II) was selected because it implies the time prior to the era of mass food production and it delineates the period when simple and time-honored approaches in food production were applied (Trichopoulou et al., 2007). Only if the ingredients, composition, or type of production and/or processing method of these products are traditional and are derived from a certain gastronomic inheritance, they can be regarded as traditional products.

Traditional foods can be foods that can be consumed on a daily basis, but in some countries or regions traditional foods have received a specialty character and are consumed on festive occasions rather than on a daily basis (Vanhonacker et al., 2010).

1.3 Traditional Foods From a Consumer Perspective

Several studies examined consumer perceptions of traditional foods. In an European study, Almli et al. (2011a) showed that traditional food products generally have a positive image among consumers. This positive image is related to attribute perceptions of high quality, special taste and safety, but also the fact that traditional food products are expensive and time-consuming to prepare. Banović et al. (2010) showed that consumers perceive traditionally produced and nationally branded food products as better in terms of product quality than the store branded food products. In addition, Balogh et al. (2016) found that consumers are willing to pay a premium for traditional foods (as compared to mainstream products).

To further elaborate on consumer perceptions of traditional foods, recently, several studies focused on the definition of traditional foods from a consumers’ perspective. Based on qualitative research in six European countries, Guerrero et al. (2009, p. 348) developed the following consumer-driven definition of traditional foods: a product frequently consumed or associated with specific celebrations and/or seasons, normally transmitted from one generation to another, made accurately in a specific way according to the gastronomic heritage, with little or no processing/manipulation, distinguished and known because of its sensory properties and associated with a certain local area, region, or country. Despite that Europe cannot be considered as a homogeneous food culture, Guerrero et al. (2009) found noticeable similarities in the perception of traditional foods between the countries that were involved in their study. Therefore, this definition can be generalized to the European population.

One of the key elements of the above consumer-driven definition of traditional foods is the fact that it concerns products that are frequently consumed and whose consumption habit is transferred from one generation to the other (Guerrero et al., 2009). Most consumers consider traditional food as well-known food, that is, they can probably name at least one traditional food of the region they come from. Familiarity indeed represents an aspect strongly associated with consumers’ inclination toward these foods and thus a driver of their consumption (Pieniak et al., 2009). People who attach more importance to familiarity with a product are more likely to opt for a traditional food product. Consumers also indicate that the availability of traditional food is strongly dependent on the season. In addition, the consumer-driven definition states that the recipe, ingredients, the way of cooking and preparing the food are also important in the concept of traditional foods (Guerrero et al., 2009). Specific emphasis should be placed on the fact that these products should be minimally processed. Indeed the terms traditional and homemade show to be strongly tied to the concept of naturalness (Bender, 1989). In this respect, Kuznesof et al. (1997) showed that regional food was perceived as authentic and as being natural. Other research confirms this association by showing that natural content is positively associated with traditional food consumption (Pieniak et al., 2009). Note that no clear relation between health and traditional foods has been found in the literature. Pieniak et al. (2009) even found a negative association between health as a motive for food choice and traditional food consumption. These findings suggest that traditional foods are not perceived as healthy foods, despite their perceived natural character. Potential explanations may stem from the perception that traditional foods are often full fat and energy dense products. Furthermore, sensory properties (i.e., taste) show to be one of the traditional food concept’s essential components (Contini et al., 2016). For many consumers, the specific taste indeed contributes to the positive image of traditional foods (Almli et al., 2011a). However, note that there are also studies that did not find a significant relation between sensory appeal and behavior toward traditional foods (Pieniak et al., 2009). Finally, the importance of product attributes tied to origin stand out in the consumer-driven definition of traditional foods. Traditional foods strongly represent a local identity or culture. Indeed, in countries or regions with strong local identities, the demand for these types of products is higher (Fernández-Ferrín et al., 2018).

1.4 Innovation in Traditional Foods

In the current increasingly globalizing food market, innovation is crucial for companies to achieve competitive advantage (Banović et al., 2016). This also applies for traditional food products, since producers in the traditional food sector are increasingly under pressure due to the opening of foreign markets, the rising importance of large retailers, and the challenges of conforming to governmental regulations. In addition, fitting with the current needs of modern societies, consumers increasingly ask for safer, more convenient, more nutritious, and healthier traditional foods (Guerrero et al., 2016). However, the production process of traditional foods still rely on traditional production practices with low competitiveness and low efficiency. To economically survive, the mainly SMEs producing traditional foods must extend or develop their skills and production techniques to improve the attributes of their products in relation to safety, convenience, nutrition, and health.

One of the main disadvantages that may result from implementation of innovations in traditional foods is the fact that the innovation itself could make them lose their traditional nature, which in turn could cause them to lose their competitive advantage and the added value that is provided to consumers. These limitations in innovation are not only due to the possible acceptance or rejection by consumers as a consequence of the loss of their traditional character (Guerrero et al., 2016), an aspect on which we will further elaborate later in this chapter, but also to the definitions of these products themselves (described in the corresponding specifications) which demark the scope of the possible innovations to be applied. Especially products subject to DOLs such as PDOs may be limited in the application of certain innovations. Due to their characteristics that link them to a territory and to certain production practices (know-how of local producers), the possibilities of being innovated seem, a priori, very limited. In this respect, there is a difference between the different types of DOLs. PDOs are much more restrictive in terms of production system requirements and local character than PGIs. The fact that the requirements for PGI certification are less restrictive, make them more attractive in relation to PDOs, explaining their increased popularity over recent years and in the northern, western, and central-eastern EU countries (Krystallis et al., 2017). It is also for this reason that some producers eager to innovate their traditional products have preferred to be outside of these DOLs and take advantage of the prestige of their own brand to introduce substantial changes in their products.

1.4.1 Typologies of Innovations in Traditional Foods

Several studies tried to categorize different innovations applied to traditional foods. For example, Gellynck and Kühne (2008) distinguished four types of innovations that are present in the traditional food sector:

1. product innovation (e.g., changes in product composition, new product size or form, package innovation),

2. process innovation (e.g., new solutions to improve quality assurance and traceability),

3. market innovation (e.g., use of new distribution channels), and

4. organizational innovation (e.g., collaboration among food chain network members and joint product development).

The authors found that traditional food producers mainly focus on product innovations and much less on process, market, or organizational innovations. Moreover, they note that there is hardly any exchange of information between traditional food producers and their customers (i.e., retail or wholesale) regarding consumer requirements.

Based on focus group discussions with consumers in six different European countries (see Guerrero et al., 2009) and on the input of European food associations, Vanhonacker et al. (2013) provided a list of 23 possible innovations in traditional foods (see Table 1.1). These 23 innovations focus on product and market innovations and can be categorized into:

1. quality and/or nutritional innovation (e.g., reduction of fat, sugar, or salt content, addition of ingredients),

2. convenience innovation (e.g., different portion sizes, year-round availability, frozen food, ready-to-eat),

3. marketing efforts (e.g., labeling or branding),

4. assortment expansion (e.g., more variety, new combinations of ingredients, diversification of shapes and texture),

5. market innovations (e.g., new/other distribution channels), and

6. packaging innovation.

Table 1.1

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