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Abstract

Chain networks of manufacturers of traditional food products comprehend a large majority of micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs – firms employing less than 250 people). In a more and more globalised market with increasing competition, innovation is an important strategic tool for SMEs to achieve competitive advantage (Avermaete et al., 2004a, Gellynck et al., 2007, Murphy, 2002). Innovation can be defined as an ongoing process of learning, searching and exploring, resulting in new products, new techniques, new forms of organisation and new markets (Lundvall, 1995) which are new to the firm and to the industry ranging from incremental to radical innovations. Within our study traditional food products are defined according to four criteria: (1) the key production steps of a traditional food product must be performed in a certain area, which can be national, regional or local. (2) The traditional food product must be authentic in its recipe (mix of ingredients), origin of raw material, and/or production process. Further, (3) the traditional food product must have been commercially available for at least 50 years and (4) it must be part of the gastronomic heritage.

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