AlpFoodway: An Interreg Alpine Space Project

An Interreg project of the European Union programme "Alpine Space". It takes an multidisciplinary, transnational and participatory approach on the food alpine heritage.
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The AlpFoodway: a sustainable model for economic, social and cultural development

Alpine food heritage comprises social, cultural and economic practices linked to food production and consumption. This cultural heritage is, at the European scale, a strong indicator of Alpine populations' identity. Food heritage goes far beyond products. It includes traditional knowledge and generational transmission of know-hows: production techniques, conservation, transformation habits and rituals; it also encompasses food consumption, as well as productive landscapes that are the result of agrarian activity. Rural exodus, ageing population, globalisation and lifestyle changes threaten Alpine food heritage.

The AlpFoodway project aims to create a sustainable economic, social and cultural development model for the peripheral mountain areas, based on the one hand on the preservation of Alpine food and cultural heritage, and on the other hand on its valuation via the use of innovative marketing and governing tools. The project will also favour the emergence of an Alpine transnational identity based on the common cultural values between the different Alpine regions, expressed through the food heritage.

The project contributes to a recent international debate (2003 UNESCO's Convention) on safeguarding, valuing, and transmitting Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) which, according UNESCO, is defined as the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills that communities, groups and, sometimes, individuals, recognise as part of their cultural heritage. If correctly identified and characterised, the Alpine Food ICH can become an intangible asset, based on experience and symbolic elements, allowing to differentiate and value positively the Alpine products and services regarding actors of the different consumption modes.

All Alpine governments suggest solutions to preserve and value their ICH, but often so in a fragmented and uncoordinated way. Owing to the AlpFoodWay project, culinary know-how and traditions of a transnational space could be recognised and brought to the fore at an unprecedented scale: the Alps, in their entirety, in order to generate a large Alpine network that will share strategies, policies, tools and good practices, and value the Alpine food heritage efficiently, as a whole.

The ultimate goal of the project is to create conditions allowing the Alpine food heritage application to the UNESCO's intangible cultural heritage.

KEDGE Business School is proud to be involved in this ambitious project owing to its expertise and skills in the areas of marketing and consumer behaviour, especially on the cultural aspects of consumption. 

KEDGE main activities

The main activities that KEDGE will carry out relate to identification of best collective marketing practices and valuation of the Alpine intangible cultural heritage, most notably the practices linked to food and gastronomy.

KEDGE will contribute to the analysis and understanding of the way products, services and experiences linked to Alpine food cultural heritage can be successfully managed and how to position this offer on the market lastingly, all the while retaining its authenticity. From a methodological standpoint, it will include desk analysis of secondary sources to identify the best/work practices in terms of commercial valuation and exploitation of Alpine food; field surveys of selected success stories; digital ethnography ("Netnography") to identify market responses and understand the meaning consumers grant to the Alpine food heritage; comparative analysis and the development of educational policies, management guides, in order to delineate the best practices within internal mobilisation processes as well as collective marketing initiatives, and on the long-run, transforming the Alpine food ICH in a commercial opportunity.

KEDGE will be the partner in charge of coordinating and overseeing those activities. Partners that will get involved in those themes are Innsbruck University (Austria), Applied Sciences Munich University (Germany), Polo Poschiavo (Switzerland), and RRA SevernePrimoeske (Slovenia).

Alpfoodway was considered innovative by the EU Alpine Space program, which only funds a small number of the submitted projects, since it links food heritage with marketing and consumer culture, and does not consider heritage communities as passive recipients of ‘top-down’ interventions, but instead supports ‘bottom-up’ mobilisation processes based on engagement/empowerment of the citizens in order to find new approaches to the commercial valuation of authentic traditions.

The main outputs of the project will include

  • A Vision Paper on the safeguard and commercial valuation of the Alpine Food Intangible Cultural Heritage, which will summarize key insights and recommendations for Alpine farmers, firms, tourism and local economic development authorities, policy makers, and NGOs;
  • A Cartography of Traditional Alpine Food ICH, which will be made available to sign by those (individual citizen-consumers, entrepreneurs, politicians, firms, NGOs, institutions) who will commit themselves to take action to safeguard and value the Alpine food and its intangible cultural heritage;
  • A better understanding of traditional food heritage in the Alps and its role in sustainable development, also owing to the creation of a cutting edge online inventory;
  • Courses/training programmes and educational units
  • A cultural exchange platform based on events and touristic tours.  

The 14 Alpfoodway partners (Italy, Switzerland, France, Germany, Austria and Slovenia) cover geographically and linguistically the entire Alpine space and contribute to the project thanks to their differentiated skills in sustainable development, marketing, tourism, ICH safeguarding, and agricultural market strategies. 

Partners

  • Polo Poschiavo, Switzerland (lead partner)
  • Lombardy Region, Italy
  • Mountain Community of Camonica Valley, Italy
  • Regional Center of Alpine Population Studies, Switzerland
  • Regional Development Agency of Northern Primorska Ltd. Nova Gorica, Slovenia
  • Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Slovenia
  • TSM - Trentino School of Management, Italy
  • Autonomous Region of Aosta Valley - Department for Education and Culture, Italy
  • Bauges Regional Natural Park, France
  • Development Agency for Upper Gorenjska, Slovenia
  • Dislivelli Association, Italy
  • Munich University of Applied Sciences, Germany
  • University of Innsbruck School of Management, Austria

The project lasted three years and ended on the 31st of October 2019. The total funding amounts to 2,540,566 EUR of which 1,923,130 EUR covered by the ERDF grant.

Alpfoodway website

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