The production of speciality products attached to particular geographic areas is of growing importance to the agrifood sector in the UK. However, the centralised nature of the industry's infrastructure, together with the special nature of the products themselves, raise issues about innovation, the use of technology and effective marketing of territorial foods. This paper reports the results of a study which investigated the experiences, attitudes and motivations of speciality regional food producers situated in the north of England. The study adopted a qualitative approach, allowing in-depth exploration of the producers' views on their businesses, production processes, consumer relationships and future aspirations. Interviews were conducted with 15 speciality food producers, all of whom were members of local regional food promotion groups. The sample comprised a broad spectrum of different types of producer varying by factors such as size of operation, product sector, personal background and degree of training in production and marketing. Products offered by these producers showed different types and degrees of attachment to the local territory. The producers themselves were found to be highly knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their product sectors, and were found to hold strong views on issues such as product quality and authenticity, the use of supermarkets for distribution and adaptation of methods to meet customer needs. In both production and marketing, producers showed a combination of resistance to change and modification in some areas, while displaying high levels of innovation and entrepreneurship in others. Overall, the results give an insight into the current state of mind of a set of speciality producers in the UK. It is anticipated that the findings will be of use to policy-makers and advisers in the agrifood and SME sectors.


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