Enhancing Rural Development in Spain through Certified Wild Food Products
The expansion of certification beyond wood based products to include all products originating in forests is an important area of development for PEFC. Following on from a previous Collaboration Fund project focused on mushrooms, we supported the development of wild food products from certified Spanish forests.
Produced in Spanish forests, nuts, mushrooms, fruits and berries, spirits, medicinal herbs, honey and Iberian pork - collectively known as wild food - are renowned products distributed around the world on national and international markets.
While their market is global, their production is extremely local, with the economies of the regions where these products originate relying heavily on their production. Any changes in their consumption can have a strong trickle-down effect on local employment and livelihoods.
So far, their market has remained strong despite the global economic crisis and their wild origin gives them a competitive advantage. Consumers, however, increasingly demand assurance that these products are from a sustainable origin.
With PEFC certification, companies can provide consumers with this assurance, demonstrating clearly that products originate in sustainably managed forests. As the demand for certified wild food products grows, certification enables producers to respond to this demand while giving their products an added value to differentiate themselves from competitors.
Because of the strong impact the local production has on rural economies, expanding the market for certified wild food products will have a considerable positive impact on rural development.
PEFC and Wild Food Products
In light of the importance of wild food products to rural development in Spain, the 2013 Collaboration Fund supported a PEFC Spain run project to increase PEFC certification among the wild food products sector through a far reaching awareness raising campaign.
From cooking lessons to TV shows, PEFC Spain conducted a variety of activities targeting the various stakeholders within the wild food sector, including chefs, producers and journalists.
The beginning of 2014 saw PEFC Spain travel across the country with the internationally renowned chef Charo Val to carry out training sessions for future professionals in the gastronomy sector, showcasing the use of wild foods, such PEFC certified Iberian ham.
A highlight of the project was the production of “Tastes of Sustainable Forests” – an award-winning recipe book and awareness guide in one beautiful publication. The book provides the reader with information about PEFC certification and the value of the brand for producers and chefs, as well as a collection of recipes made with wild food products, such as truffles, chestnuts, peanuts, honey, and Iberian ham. PEFC Spain launched the book in 2014, gathering around 50 journalists, bloggers, chefs, culinary schools and collaborators of the project to the Abadía Retuerta winery (which itself has over 300 hectares of PEFC-certified forest) to see the book and taste the food.
The need to increase the general public’s awareness of wild food was also an essential aspect of this project. One of the ways this was done was through the TV program “Cocina con Sergio”. Broadcasted on the Spanish public channel TVE1, the show highlighted the project and wild food products certification, as well as demonstrating how to cook some recipes made with wild food products. In addition, PEFC Spain published several articles in the food sector magazine “Origen” and took part in a number of shows, including “Salamaq14”, “Salon Gourmet 2014” and “Feria Alimentaria 2014”.
To ensure Chain of Custody certification of these wild food products, PEFC Spain worked with certification bodies to develop a technical guide. Building on a practical document for the certification of Iberian pork-based products adapted to the PEFC ST 2002:2013, PEFC Spain extended this document in order to provide clarification on some of the issues that could prevent the development of Non-Timber Forest Product certification.
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