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Keywords:

  • unique European food;
  • food research;
  • sensory;
  • consumer;
  • interdisciplinary framework;
  • sustainable agriculture

Abstract

Unique food products constitute a very important element of European food business, culture, identity and heritage. Understanding the uniqueness of food in Europe from a research-based interdisciplinary perspective will be a critical factor in promoting the competitiveness of artisanal food industries going forward both locally and internationally. Success will support the competitiveness of the European food industry, in particular, small and medium enterprises, by enabling substantial product differentiation potential for producers and providing ample variety in food choice for the consumer. In addition, it will contribute to promotion of sustainable agriculture and development of rural areas, protecting them from depopulation. In order to meet the demands of a developing fundamental shift in European Union agricultural focus to greener, sustainable farming practices and wider rural development and to ensure success for local small-scale producers, this paper discusses the future direction of research in the field of unique European foods. The paper presents a perspective which promotes optimisation and innovation in unique food products in Europe through the integration of advanced knowledge and technologies. A framework is presented covering location, identity, perception and well-being as research areas needing synergy to bridge the research knowledge deficit in determination and specification of food identity in the European Union. The ultimate aim being promotion of sustainable agriculture and rural development, particularly in territories across the European Union where unique food is strategically and scientifically under-defined. © 2013 Society of Chemical Industry