In the European Union, Small and Medium Sized
Enterprises (SMEs) in the food sector are increasingly under pressure due to the opening of markets, an increasing demand of standardized and price competitive food products by the consumers, the
rising importance of large retailers, and the challenges of conforming to governmental regulations.
These increased demands put at risk many traditional foods as well as traditional processing techniques still available today. SMEs using locally sourced raw materials and century-old recipes and processing methods are a cornerstone of the cultural identity of European regions. In the urban centers, groups of consumers are increasingly demanding traditional, local and/or organic food productions, as food scandals and the dispute on GMO undermine public confidence in industrial food producing systems. To economically survive and to partake in these modern consumer markets, SMEs producing traditional foods must extend their skills, both in terms of business development and production techniques, to comply with existing European regulations and to promote the aspects of their products related to nutrition and health.
To support these traditional SMEs, TRAFOON has set sail in November 2013 to establish a knowledge transfer network with a focus on food products made of grains, fish, fruits, vegetables and mushrooms to support traditional food producing SMEs. The TRAFOON network will interlink researchers, knowledge transfer agents, and SME associations in 14 European countries to foster sustainable innovation and entrepreneurship in the sector of traditional foods for the benefit of the regions of Europe and the European consumer.