Encouraging innovation, cultural diversity, and sustainability

IGCAT’s proposal to develop innovative souvenirs, is being put to the test by European Regions of Gastronomy. A pilot international competition took place on 25 January 2017 at the Electra Metropolis Hotel in Athens. Eight Regions of Gastronomy Platform partners brought samples of innovative souvenirs, identified as hand-made or artisanal products. Members were asked to rate souvenirs according to some initial criteria that included the degree of innovation, creativity and sustainability demonstrated by the products and their packaging. A key factor, how connected the item is to the region of origin and how it engages the tourist.

The main aim of the contest was to raise a discussion among Partners concerning the criteria to be adopted in possible future competitions. However, this first exercise was hailed as a success by the partners for drawing their attention to the need to better brand, package and present souvenirs by telling the story and/or engaging the tourist in interesting ways.

The Innovative Souvenir initiative aims to promote sustainable local production chains and consumption systems, by supporting local manufacturers who succeed in delivering creative products that represent their region and, at the same time, are conserved, packed and distributed in the most sustainable way.

Two categories have been presented to the pilot edition in Athens, namely food souvenir and kitchenware souvenir.

Food souvenirs included examples of local food and typical products that are transportable without the risk of perishing, losing their nutritional properties or polluting the environment, prepared predominantly with local and natural ingredients.

Kitchenware souvenirs encompassed cooking utensils or equipment such as spoons, pots, and the like, coming from the local culinary tradition, suitable to be transported, as for the previous category, without polluting the environment and made of local raw materials.

Partners from Catalonia 2016; Minho 2016 (Portugal); Aarhus – Central Denmark Region 2017; East Lombardy 2017 (Italy); Riga-Gauja 2017 (Latvia); North Brabant 2018 (Netherlands); Galway-West of Ireland 2018 (Ireland); Sibiu 2019 (Romania); South Aegean 2019 (Greece) and candidate region, Kuopio 2020 (Finland) presented and discussed the souvenirs.

The competition raised enthusiasm among regional representatives and reinforced their commitment to deliver sustainable souvenirs as well as to repeat the exercise in their regions with local producers. Interesting suggestions were put forward about the criteria, mainly concerning storytelling and the possibility to use digital technologies to communicate souvenirs’ characteristics and cultural significance. These, alongside other aspects of the Innovative Souvenir pilot, will be discussed during the 10th Regions of Gastronomy Platform Meeting, hosted 26-27 January by South Aegean Region on the island of Rhodes, Greece.

About the Regions of Gastronomy

The Regions of Gastronomy Platform and the European Region of Gastronomy Award aim to contribute to better quality of life in European regions, by highlighting distinctive food cultures, educating for better health and sustainability, and stimulating gastronomic innovation. Candidate regions are invited to join a knowledge-exchange platform of European regions in order to further cross-border collaborations and develop shared initiatives.


IGCAT (International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Arts and Tourism) organises the award with the support of European institutions and is an international network of experts that aim to guide, facilitate and support leaders in cities, regions and cultural projects to understand the potential of their distinct food, culture, arts and sustainable tourism assets.