A French region developed its own brand that capitalises on its culinary tradition, as well as the diversity and quality of its local produce.
The main economic activities in the territory of Asses, Verdon, Vaïre, Var (Pays A3V) in the south of France are agriculture and tourism. A survey carried out by the Local Action Group covering the area, revealed that the territory has a strong culinary tradition that wasn’t being exploited. It also found that very few restaurants in the area were using local produce, despite the quality and diversity of products on offer.
LEADER support was used to establish a local brand, the ‘Pays Gourmand’ label, which aimed to recognise the restaurateurs of the territory that offer local products in their restaurants. The development of the label included a series of animation activities to establish cooperation between restaurateurs and producers of the territory, including organisation of meetings and training for professionals. A key aspect of the project was also promotional and information activities such as the development of a dedicated website, brochures, catalogues and the organisation of events aimed at consumers (residents and tourists).
The project was so successful that two subsequent cooperation projects with additional LEADER funding extended the use of the label into the nearby territories of Serre-Ponçon, Ubaye, Durance (Pays Sud) (2013-2014) and Dignois (Pays Dignois) (2014-2015).
In 2013, the Pays A3V and Pays SUD decided to pool their experiences in order to further expand and enrich the brand.
At the beginning of 2016, 59 restaurants were distinguished with the label ‘Pays Gourmand’ (22 in the Countries A3V, 19 in Pays SUD and 18 in Pays Dignois) and 60 local product suppliers.
The initiative has proven to be sustainable. Since the end of the project funding the three territories have extended the approach through actions aimed at all those in catering trade in the territories, including school canteens.