On 22 March 2018, Strategic Advisor for ’s-Hertogenbosch City Anja van Hout presented to experts from the Pays de La Loire agrifood industry the distinct benefits and challenges of joining the successful cross-region European Region of Gastronomy Platform. Anja Van Hout, an IGCAT Expert and representative from North Brabant European Region of Gastronomy 2018, was contributing to a meeting of the Association of Quality Food Chains Pays de la Loire, in Pays de la Loire Europe HQ, Brussels. As the day progressed, it became clear to those in attendance that the objectives of both Pays de la Loire and the European Region of Gastronomy Platform regarding production standards and food supply chains were closely aligned.
The Association of Quality Food Chains was started in 2017 and aims to centralise the Pays de la Loire Region’s food quality control procedures using standardised specifications, which are then independently verified and organised by sector. The group also aims to work collectively to strengthen each member’s business, but in support and cohesion with the desire to develop and implement new product quality approaches. Furthermore, it oversees and facilitates communication between food producers, the general public and industry professionals. The members of the Federation also strive to better understand the workings of food quality control at European level and how best to encourage action and change in this area, by building close relationships with those working in the EU.
The meeting offered fruitful dialogue and revealed many common objectives, focus areas and policy concerns between the North Brabant Region, European Region of Gastronomy Platform and Pays de la Loire stakeholders. Anja van Hout is closely involved with North Brabant European Region of Gastronomy 2018; she offered valued insight and information about the Platform and Award, as well as an interesting perspective on the associated challenges, such as the process of developing the regional programme and stakeholders, designing a bid book and then transforming it into actions.
Speaking after the presentation, Agnès Trarieux, Head of Agriculture, Fish and Bioeconomy at the Pays de La Loire Europe Association discussed the appeal of the Region of Gastronomy Award and how organisations in Pays de la Loire could learn from the activities of the European Platform of awarded and candidate Region members;
The functioning of the stakeholder group was really appealing for our regional members. There are already a lot of local and regional positive initiatives in Pays de La Loire but they miss a real coordination and political will to go further. Examples from elsewhere, particularly from other European regions would really be a plus so joining the Platform would be very positive for us. Thanks to you, we realised that communication and synergy between different sectors and stakeholders is a real added value for a territory! And furthermore, that cooperation to go in the same direction is possible!
About European Region of Gastronomy
The European Region of Gastronomy Platform 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. IGCAT (International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Arts and Tourism) organises the award with the support of European institutions.
IGCAT is a non-profit organisation established in 2012 working in the fields of gastronomy, culture, arts and tourism. Through its worldwide network of experts, IGCAT aims to empower local communities by guiding, facilitating, and supporting local leaders in cities, regions and cultural projects to understand the potential of their distinct food, culture, arts and sustainable tourism assets. IGCAT is the official secretariat for the Region of Gastronomy Platform and provides the European Region of Gastronomy Award, the European Young Chef Award and the Local Food Gift Award.