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A cultural heritage to savour

Oct 31, 2018 / alpMedia
How a cross-border project combines culinary delights with the Alpine heritage.
Image caption:
Local specialities are to become part of the intangible cultural heritage of the Alps. © Caroline Begle, CIPRA International

Cheese, speck (smoked bacon) and bread are staple Alpine fare. The ingredients needed to produce them come from the Alps. Directly connected with Alpine agriculture, they form part of the ecological cycles, regional value chains and Alpine cultural landscape. They conceal unique manufacturing and processing methods and stand for trade, know-how and tradition.

With the Interreg Alpine Space project, «AlpFoodway», 14 partners in six Alpine countries are aiming to raise the profile of Alpine cuisine, enhancing it and promoting it as a driver of sustainable development in mountain regions. They view the Alpine eating culture as a way of strengthening local identities, creating jobs and revitalising mountain regions.

Emphasising differences

In order to exploit this potential, the project focuses on sustainable enhancement as well as the marketing and branding of Alpine cuisine. Andrea Hemetsberger, director of the Institute for Strategic Management, Marketing and Tourism at the University of Innsbruck, is engaging with these developments in Austria. One of the long-term goals of the project is the international recognition of Alpine cuisine by UNESCO as an intangible part of the region’s cultural heritage. In addition to this umbrella branding, it is just as important to develop strategies for the appreciation of local specialities: «Any attempt to promote Alpine cuisine as a mass product will fail. Its attraction lies in the local, in its special nature.»

Examples are provided by existing labels that bridge the gap between national and local recognition, upholding old traditions and practices such as dairies or the baking of old-established bread types while further developing them. Initiatives such as Austria’s «East Tyrolean Breakfast», the transnational «Lo Pan Ner» festival of black bread or the Italian «Consortium to Maintain the Bitto Storico», a cheese from Lombardy, help in marketing local products without losing the link to producers, places or people.


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