The Future of “Artisan Food”

“Artisan” products have exploded in recent years and has quickly become a fast growing niche market in the food enterprise sector as a result of consumers becoming more demanding for local high quality produce, but what is it really?

Following attending the Food Symposium in UCC last week, some very stimulating  points about a definition to pinpoint its true meaning arose – such as understanding, respect, knowledge, craft masters, intuitive, taste, environment.  One particular phrase that stuck regarding the artisan industry was “building an identity within an identity”.

With Ireland being the leaders in sustainable agriculture, it’s no wonder graduates from courses such as the diploma in specialty foods run by UCC are becoming more and more popular. Graduates from the diploma have gone on to open their own businesses such as Seymour’s Biscuits, Bórua farmhouse cheeses and Ayle Farm, but only represent a fraction of the unique products hitting our markets and shelves.

The FSAI recently published a new guidance note (29) regarding guidelines on the use of specific marketing terms and proposes that the word “artisan” can only be used if:

  1. The food is made in limited quantities (less than 1,000 kg or litres of food per week on average) by skilled craftspeople.
  2. The processing method is not fully mechanised and follows a traditional method.
  3. The food is made in a micro-enterprise at a single location (employs fewer than ten persons).
  4. The characteristic ingredient(s) used in the food are grown or produced locally where seasonally available and practical (within 100 km of the manufacturing/food service establishment).

As much as we as consumers love to see  “artisan”, “traditional”, “farmhouse” and “natural” on products, it is no wonder regulation around usage of the terminology must be stricter to prevent misleading and fraudulent products that take away from the true meaning of produce brought to us directly by highly skilled and knowledgeable local craftspeople.

For more information please feel free to contact us.

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