Geographical Indications, Traditional Specialty Guaranteed and Traditional Food
The quality of products can be tightly linked to the characteristics of the area of production and, in particular, to the use of specific raw materials and (historical) food processing methods. For each food product, these aspects can be claimed by producers who must strictly comply with respective production discipline, after being awarded the certificate of Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), or Traditional Specialty Guaranteed (TSG) as regulated by the Commission (EU, 2012). Furthermore, these labels communicate and guarantee the quality of typical and traditional food products for consumers. PDO, PGI, and TSG certifications encourage diversification of agricultural production, protect product brands from misuse and imitation, and help consumers to meet their quality requirements through specific and clear product information (Mora and Menozzi, 2009; Pilone et al., 2015).
Consumers associate traditional food more broadly with customary and authentic food as well as with food they are familiar with in their culinary environments; obviously, there exist also connotations for local food. It might be expected that these connotations might change if the perceptual properties of a product are changed (Stolzenbach et al., 2013). Innovations in traditional food products, studied in six European countries, were only accepted if they are perceived as providing tangible benefits for the consumer (e.g., in terms of improved safety or health), while at the same time, not harming the intrinsic traditional character of the product (Guerrero et al., 2009). Vanhonacker et al. (2010) observed that European traditional food consumers welcome innovations that highlight the authenticity and origin of traditional foods and improve their shelf life, but reject innovations that may affect the sensory properties of the product. Almli et al. (2011) performed a cross-cultural experiment in France and Norway, studying the acceptance of innovations in traditional cheese at different price levels and in different contexts. Again, well-accepted innovations in traditional cheese are those that reinforce the traditional and authentic character of the product, rather than introducing health character into a product with no such connotations.
Pilone et al. (2015) focused on a typical Italian cheese and Italian consumers' perceptions on two different types of innovation, shelf-life extension and environmental certification of a product. The outcomes of the survey suggested that consumers positively perceive the investigated innovations, and would be open to innovations toward traditional food products with different degrees of acceptance.