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Cheese could take slice of local tourism market-9 November

April 14, 2016 0 Comments

A visiting scholar at Lincoln University is looking how to get cheese tourism on board as one of the potential main motivations for international visitors, and tell visitors a bit more about Canterbury.
“Cheese is part of the identity of the New Zealand South Island landscapes, and this sense of place can be transmitted by tasting and purchasing the product where it is made,” Francesc Fusté Forné says.
“Cheese tastings, cheesemaking processes, cheesemongers stories; cheese and milk are an awesome way to let people know about ‘100% Pure Canterbury’ people, and their pure Cantabrian nature and culture,” he says.
Food tourism is still mainly wine-based, Mr Fusté Forné says, but there is also a growing interest regarding unfamiliar products and different ways of cooking, such as hangi.
“Cheese is a product closely linked to the landscape since it comes from the milk obtained from the animals, grazing and feeding on a particular land. At the same time, landscape is one of the main features of New Zealand. Fertile soil means good milk, and good milk means outstanding cheese.”
He points to several examples at national and international level where cheese has become a tourist attraction by itself, such as La Maison du Camembert in France, the Museo del Queso Manchego in Spain, and the Puhoi Valley Cafe and Cheese Store in Auckland.
In the South Island some examples are Gibbston Valley Cheese in Queenstown, and Barrys Bay Cheese in Banks Peninsula.
“All of them are examples whichshow the power that cheese has as a tourist motivation factor.”
However, most of the small cheese producers still face a daily challenge to survive, he adds.
“These traditional rural businesses must design strategies to reach enough levels of productivity and try to compete in a market with an increasing authentic local produce offer; from cheese to hazelnuts, from wine to berries. This is the case of Canterbury region farmers.
“One of the main highlights in Canterbury are the farmers’ markets. They represent the main selling point for local growers and producers, being well-integrated within the Canterbury settlements. Also, dairy production offers a wide range of possibilities – cheese, butter, yogurts, or milk itself.
“Innovation plays a key role in terms of reaching new market niches, exploring new tastes, and selling to both locals and visitors.”
He says projects such as the Canterbury Food and Wine Trails have been enhancing local produce entrepreneurship, and helping productivity.
Mr Fusté Forné is in New Zealand on a six-months’ exchange period as a visiting scholar in the framework of NESSIE Program (Networking on Environmental Safety and Sustainability Initiative for Engineering), a project funded by the European Commission.

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