Consumption of Traditional Food in Tourism: History
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The topic of this research is the factors that influence the consumption of traditional food products (TFPs) in tourism, as seen from the perspective of management-sector employees in food and beverage catering facilities.

  • food perception
  • catering
  • traditional food
  • tourism

1. Introduction

Traditional food products (TFPs) are an important part of the culture, identity, and heritage of every nation [1][2][3][4]. They are products which are prepared from specific ingredients, using special meal preparation methods passed down from generation to generation [5]. As such, TFPs are the complete opposite of mass-produced food, because in their case the focus is on the importance of the product as a part of cultural heritage [6]. TFPs are constantly being revived by increased supply and demand from consumers and different commercial entities that are aware of their significance [1]. In scientific research, there are different approaches to studying TFPs [7][8]. Their traditionalism is linked with their production method or with labels that point out their idiosyncrasy [9]. As a result, consumers create a particular image and associate these products with terms such as “traditional cuisine” and “traditional recipes” [5]. Due to their uniqueness and specificity, TFPs are highly desirable elements of the catering offerings in tourism [1][2][3][4]. By offering TFPs, catering facilities are helping to revitalize the countryside and economy, thus stimulating the development of tourism and the promotion of gastronomical identity. This in turn directly influences the economic and social development of many regions and areas [10][11][12][13].
It is important to point out that the consumption of TFPs is directly conditioned by the supply and demand chain in catering facilities, which in turn influences the management sector of catering facilities to acknowledge the importance of these products [14]. This is one of the reasons why employees in this sector were surveyed on this topic.

2. Traditional Food

TFPs are made by processing and producing different ingredients originating from a certain area [3][4]. They are famous for their production recipe and the origin of the raw materials which are used in their preparation, or in other words, their entire production process. Their presence on the market needs to date back at least 50 years, and of course they have to be a part of the gastronomic heritage [15]. Due to the specific nature of their production process, TFPs are famous for their distinctive sensory and/or nutritional quality [4][16][17]. The quality of food and its production process are some of the most important food-related characteristics nowadays. This is precisely where TFPs stand out in relation to standardized mass-produced food. The mere notion of food being processed in smaller amounts raises awareness about using fewer preservatives and other substances which influence quality sustainability. This is why they can be found in smaller amounts, only in certain seasons, as well as in certain areas [18]. In this way, food production, or mass food production to be precise, has shifted focus to the revaluation of the gastronomic tradition and the preservation of traditional culinary values [19] that are important for tourism.
TFP production contributes to the improvement of the food offer in developing countries. These products, either of plant or animal origin, produced on local farms and fields, help create a specific ethical bond regarding the creation of healthy and natural dietary habits [20].

3. The Importance of the Perception of Food and the Factors Which Impact Consumption

The manner in which employees in catering facilities perceive authentic and local food products has a significant impact on their business behaviour models and on creating the gastronomic offer. Robinson et al. [21] point out that in developing countries hospitality workers are seen as actors who contribute to the strengthening and development of tourism; however, this is not always the case in practice. In more developed areas, they represent a significant component of the tourist infrastructure which shapes the tourist product [21].
TFPs, as a reflection of the geographical heritage of a certain region, represent an economic and cultural phenomenon which relies on the production and consumption of food, and forges a connection between consumers and producers, protecting all the subjects involved in the process [22]. It is precisely for this reason that the paper analyses ecological, socio-cultural, economic, and touristic factors as the topic of study, along with the significant elements in the perception of hospitality workers who procure them and offer them to their consumers.

3.1. Environmental Factors

The production of TFPs in a certain area affects the preservation of the ecosystem, which raises the awareness of local residents about the need to protect the environment. Unlike conventional products, TFPs not only have significantly fewer negative impacts on the region, such as noise, environmental pollution, and the degradation of natural resources, but also reconstruct natural heritage, which in this case remains intact [23].
The impact of food and nutrition on human health and the environment is one of the key topics discussed in political and social circles. It is frequently discussed among researchers and conservationists alike, because food production leads to a significant increase in global greenhouse gas emissions. Food production processes are also the main consumer and polluter of water [24][25]. That is why it is often pointed out that food production and food consumption should originate from the same locality [26].
As a result, marketing strategies often focus on the debate about reducing pollution which occurs if food is produced and consumed in the same localities. In the case of TFPs, because they are produced by means of old methods or from old plant and wildlife species, they are often not even suited to large-scale distribution [27]. Here we ought to mention the use of PVC packaging, which is significantly less frequent in the case of TFPs than it is in the case of mass-produced products [28]. From an environmental point of view, the largest percentage of plastic used for food packaging ends up in wastewater shortly after purchase. This is particularly true of disposable packaging, because it is not disposed of properly [29][30].

3.2. Socio-Cultural Factors

Socio-cultural factors in TFP use include the preservation of tradition, cultural identity, customs, and folklore, as well as local gastronomy, i.e., gastronomic heritage [31][32]. Activating the production and consumption of these products helps to activate young people, preventing the migration of the local population from rural areas, which helps the local community improve their quality of life, i.e., improve the living standards [7][33][34][35].
Moscatelli et al. [6] define social sustainability as the ability to establish continued quality of life and human well-being, while taking into account the tradition that gives it an original, unique identity. The term “tradition” in relation to food and gastronomy is closely associated with elements such as time and knowledge, that is, culture, which includes the dimension of place or locality of the food. Here, the concept of TFPs includes terms such as typical food, specialties, and heritage food [12][36][37].

3.3. Economic Factors

Studies have confirmed that the use of TFPs increases the demand for regional restaurants, which has a considerable economic impact [38][39]. Therefore, the production of TFPs is an important factor in economic development which impacts the diversification of rural areas [40], promotes sustainable agriculture and craftsmanship, decreases regional economic gaps, and strengthens local economies [41][42]. However, it also leads to a reduction in depopulation [40][43]. The market battle between global brands and TFPs is constant [44]. Florek and Gazda [19] state that only global brands can bring an economic effect. Nevertheless, it is worth pointing out that TFPs have an impact on the creation of a unique value and play an important role in creating a brand for their locality [19]. This in turn helps support the households that created the brand [45]. Pienak et al. [46] determined that the product price did not significantly affect the consumers’ attitudes toward buying and consuming these products. However, their production value is significantly higher both in terms of their procurement and sales in the form different gastronomic products in catering facilities [47].
Regardless of the influence of global brands, the production, sale, and placement of TFPs in the hospitality and tourism industries has a significant economic benefit for the economy and for society. It provides positive benefits to producers and the local community as it ensures an additional income, has a favourable effect on diversification and different types of activities [31][44][48], and contributes to the decrease in population poverty [23][45].

3.4. Touristic Factors

In the context of tourism development, TFPs preserve traditional food production, culture, identity, and heritage, highlighting the tourists’ interest in these products as significant factors of the local development of agriculture and handicraft production. They also contribute to the improvement and preservation of culinary culture and heritage [36][37]. Niedbala et al. [35] explain that the combination of TFPs and tourism as a part of local activities represents an investment in the future which affects the sustainability of gastronomy and economy [35]. Bassiere and Tibere [36] point out that tourists’ interest in such food is one of the key factors of local economic development which contributes to the development of food culture and heritage. It enables tourists to become familiar with less famous cultural heritage simply by means of ethnic restaurants’ offers.
A study carried out by Bryła [38] states that the characteristics that distinguish TFPs from conventional food include links to tradition, as well as sensory and health properties. Factors that can be singled out include natural taste, product quality, sales in the region of origin, and labelling. The most important factors in choosing these products are the traditional recipe, taste, and uniqueness of the product.
Tourists are much more interested in obtaining information about these products than the mass-produced products that can be found in the tourist offer. TFPs help create a general impression and form attitudes towards the tourist destination in question, which are aimed at economic development [19].

This entry is adapted from the peer-reviewed paper 10.3390/foods12122338


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