local market local economy know-how france regions

Local market: a heritage to be valued

Does talking about a “local market” really make sense? The terroir is a word that reflects the alliance of people and the earth. Surprisingly, it has no equivalent in other languages. This very French notion has a meaning with blurred contours, including a culinary, architectural and even landscape dimension. However, beyond its strong cultural and sentimental value, it is a whole local economy that has been built around it. Thus, the concept of terroir allows a valorization of the local product as well as the goods and services that surround it. For example, the prices of seasonal rentals vary according to external factors relating to the terroir and the value given to it. Everything is related to “a subjective perception of the pleasure provided”. A marketing concept that sometimes seems to pervert the discourse on crafts and local know-how, sometimes allows it to restore its credentials.

Originally, the terroir refers to ancestral know-how, typical products, inimitable. As a guarantee of quality and authenticity, local products are therefore marketed at higher prices than the competition. Faced with this observation, the notion of terroir was subsequently often over-used to sell products of questionable quality, not designed according to the rules of art. This is the case, for example, of counterfeit Laguiole knives or Marseille soaps. Today, we are witnessing a return to the roots. The terroir is regaining its nobility thanks to the current revolution of consumer trends.

Terroir and territory, the art of making known

When we think of terroir, we almost systematically associate a product with a geographical origin. To this geographical origin, a certain quality is attributed, which we assume is the best. Bordeaux wines, Espelette pepper, Strasbourg sausage, Bayonne ham, Roquefort, Nîmes olive, Champagne… All these names refer to a mental representation. It is built by word of mouth but also marketing and communication to promote products.

This mental representation also refers to human and environmental notions, sometimes of the order of the imagination: know-how, identity, climate, landscape… We therefore build the image of a product on the imagination drawn on a basis of reality. That’s why you don’t see a problem paying a lot of money for a passable champagne. Much less a good cremant.

If the terroir refers to a quality image, it is not always in line with the intrinsic quality of the product. In reality, marketing takes advantage of the territory’s strengths and attributes them to the product. Good territorial marketing also allows the development of local know-how.

Thus, the creation of the image of a terroir also comes from the ability to make widely known the product. For example, the image of Bordeaux wine was built simultaneously with trade around the Port of Bordeaux. A place of export and merchants, Bordeaux had all the cards to sell its wine in quantity abroad. This is what has allowed Bordeaux wine to create international renown. However, objectively, a Bordeaux wine or a Burgundy wine for example are very similar and each have their own taste characteristics. Bordeaux wine does not appeal too much to the French because it is considered too tannic. Its success outside our borders owes much to the bourgeois fashion and the image of a gourmet of France.

market terroir economy france charcuterie cheese

The local economy, life project and local actors

In addition to its geographical dimension, the terroir also refers to a way of life. It is the result of the life project of the actors who produce it. It surrounds itself with a social and ethical value. The terroir is also the ability to accept innovations or to reject them. The whole thing is not to betray the essence of the product and the trust of the customers. When we talk about terroir, we therefore integrate a whole dimension linked to heritage, ancestral know-how passed down from generation to generation, from master to student.

In this sense, the terroir opposes globalization, industrialization, depersonalization. Since the beginning of globalization, he has positioned himself as a proud defender of the true, the natural, the healthy, thereby rejecting standardization, monoculture, the quest for yield.

The terroir thus finds its place in a world that seeks to return to its roots. This fundamental trend, which began more than a decade ago, is also noticeable internationally. This is the case, for example, in Vietnam with the introduction of the label “Every village has its flagship product” initiated in 2008. Which aims to preserve regional heritage, develop exports, enhance the local economy, reduce rural exodus and protect the environment.

The terroir therefore contributes to the protection and economic, ecological and social development of many regions. To frame and preserve the value of this terroir in France, the state has set up Labels. Protected or Controlled Origin (AOP – AOC), Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), Traditional Specialty Guaranteed (STG), Organic Agriculture (AB), Red Label, are all signs of quality, in the service of the terroir. Valued by the great Chefs who always favour local producers, the terroir allows local ecosystems to be sustained, outside the rules of globalization.

The terroir, an international market

It also contributes to the construction of symbols of French gastronomy and quality, internationally.

Today, we are witnessing an increase in the consumption of fresh, seasonal, local products, at the expense of frozen products, even meat. Added to this are environmental and health concerns. Which goes hand in hand with the democratization of organic and natural. Important criteria for consumers and producers include the preservation of soils and jobs, but also the opportunity to reduce circuits and the number of intermediaries in order to pay less while paying producers better. There is also an approach to limiting waste and obtaining more transparent information on the origin, quality and mode of food production. These are all considerations that the terroir is able to satisfy.

This also goes hand in hand with the trend of a return to local shops: market, first-timers, fishmongers… We are witnessing a re-education of the population on the origin of the products. Farm visits, wine tourism, strawberry picking, inn farms, cooperatives, online sales and direct sale,basket meals… These opportunities represent complementary jobs, slowing desertification and creating social ties.

terroir French wine bordeaux

Terroir and well-being, asset of the economy in New Aquitaine

Between land, sea and mountain, New Aquitaine benefits from the wealth of its territory. It is reflected in the wide variety of local products and initiatives for the local economy. Oysters from the Arcachon Basin, caviar, prunes from Agen, Foie Gras, Cognac, mountain honey… As the 1st agricultural region in France; it has no less than 295 labelled products.

To develop local productions,the region also has bodies dedicated to this mission. For example, the New Aquitaine Food Agency (AANA) works daily for quality food based on local products. In particular, it seeks to make local products labelled, to promote and promote regional products in France and internationally, to support producers in their development.

The Region also provides a platform for local products in New Aquitaine. Bringing together producers and consumers, it facilitates the democratization of these consumption patterns, in addition to the markets that are held every week in towns and villages.

The evangelization process also continues through many other ways. For example, in Bordeaux itself, every year for nearly 30 years the Market of the Good Taste of Aquitaine is held. Located in the Bastide district, it stretches over a weekend and welcomes creative producers and artisans. In recent years, new categories of exhibitors have joined the event: vegan / veggie,Made in France… In any case, the professionals prefer the local, the manager, the short circuits. The last edition brought together more than 150 exhibitors for a market that is growing year after year. Beyond the sale, this market is an opportunity to set up fun animations around biodiversity, bees, farm animals, compost, water management…

It is therefore a much more holistic vision, mixing terroir and ecological considerations, which is anchored each year a little more in our lifestyles.

Sources:

“Localproducts: vectors for valuing amenities?”, Dominique Kreziak, Anne Lacroix, François Lenglet, in The Journal of Regional and Urban Economics 2012/5 (December), pages 831 to 853

“Terroir, a concept for action in the development of territories” in articulated and cross-cutting food systems for food security. Vertigo, Volume 14 issue 1, May 2014

“Short circuits, a fundamental societal trend,” May 25, 2020

economy.gouv, “AOP-AOC, IGP, AB…: quality labels in food”, 6 December 2019

You Matter, Terroir: The rise of regional products promotes local economic and ecological development”, 23 February 2017

Companies in New Aquitaine, “Quality products from unique territories,” February 18, 2020

Platform in solidarity with local products in New Aquitaine

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