Purpose: Food and tourism have a very close relation and food can be considered an essential tourism resource. This research is focused on the analysis of consumers' and tourists' food buying behaviours. The aim of this paper is to understand the value that can be generated by linking a typical food product to the region of origin/producer/certification. In particular, we tested the hypothesis that these elements (region of origin, producer and certification) have a different weight for consumers living in different places. Moreover, the research aims at segmenting typical food product consumers, to enable producers and tourism operators to achieve communication goals effectively. Methodology: The paper is based on an empirical survey of locals and visitors that considers the case of Fontina cheese, a typical Italian cheese. Findings: The research reveals that the origin of the product is, generally, more valued than protected designation of origin (PDO) certification. The perceived value of these attributes is then found to vary according to the distance between the region of origin of the product and consumers' residence. In particular, the importance of PDO certification for consumers increases with increasing distance from the region of origin of Fontina cheese. PDO is thus valued more by tourists than by locals. Originality/value: The analysis supports and builds on previous studies on the importance of PDO certification (Bruwer and Johnson 2010; Dimara and Skuras 2005). Importantly, this work contributes by eliciting consumers' preferences for PDO according to territorial differences. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.