Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Investigating Food Development in an Area of Norway: An Explorative Study Using a Grounded Theory Approach

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Investigating Food Development in an Area of Norway: An Explorative Study Using a Grounded Theory Approach

Article excerpt

This paper started with a request from Magma Geopark to the University of Stavanger, Norwegian School of Hotel Management. Magma Geopark, as an approved geopark, must be able to prove that it has geology of "European interest." The Magma Geopark area is characterized by important geology, documented by the detailed scientific description of the application dossier to the European and Global Geoparks Network (Geopark, 2014b). They wanted an explorative study conducted to increase knowledge about food in the area, people interested in food and geology, food in combination with other industries, and topics related to the Dalane region of Rogaland County. This area, located in the south-western part of Norway, needed an investigation of their food offers in the area, possibilities, challenges, different types of food production in the area, and how food offers are related to geology tourists. Geoparks focus on, promote, and support the protection of geological heritage (Wójtowicz, Strachowka, & Strzyz, 2011). Therefore, restaurants, accommodations, and other sights the tourist have to find are outside the main scope of the geopark. The focus on tourism is very weak and on food or meals is absent in papers related to geoparks (Azman, Halim, Liu, Saidin, & Komoo, 2010; Booth & Brayson, 2011; Whiteley & Browne, 2012). Such articles mentioned that the focus was entirely on geoparks and geology, whereas mentions of restaurants or food were minimized.

Rogaland County considers itself the "Food County" of Norway (iRogaland, 2013). This statement is related to Norway's biggest fish factory situated in Egersund. Rogaland County is the largest producer of tomatoes in Norway, with 80% of tomatoes being produced here. The county is considered a "20% county," meaning it accounts for 20% of the food production in Norway. This phrase is often used to describe areas in Norway with a large production of food.

The food industry in Rogaland County is spread into different sectors, including research and development on food, raw materials, and fish farming, especially salmon and halibut. House of Meals is a building housing different companies related to the food industry, from big companies such as Tine (a dairy company) and NOFIMA (a food research company) to small companies with a few employees, such as the GladMat Festival (Happy Food Festival) and Blue Planet (a fish market consultant company).

Food development directed towards tourism and geopark tourism can be understood as co-creation experiences in this paper (Pine & Gilmore, 1999; Prebensen & Foss, 2011). The role of local food in tourism is scantily included or almost non-existent in papers dealing with geoparks. The aim of this paper is to report how local food is experienced in an area which includes a geopark. Magma Geopark is located in south-west Norway in Rogaland County. The municipality, Egersund, has approximately 14636 inhabitants (SSB, 2014). Food is seen as an interesting and important area for both tourism and local inhabitants in this region. Co-creation can be seen as the host and guests co-creating value together through their experiences (Prebensen & Foss, 2011). Prebensen and Foss's statement includes the concept from the co-creation theory that customers participating in the experience increase value and are willing to pay a higher amount for the service or product.

Local food as part of tourism in an area is often researched from the destination marketer's perspective to enable the destination can develop effective strategies for gastronomic promotion in their area and as a basis for future and further research in food and meal development (Mak, Lumbers, & Eves, 2012). The literature divides food consumption into four main areas as described by Mak et al. (2012): "food as a tourist product/attraction, tourists' food consumption behaviour/pattern, tourists' dining experiences, and tourists' special interests in various food and beverages and related events/activities in destinations" (p. …

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