Idrijski žlikrofi as a “Traditional Speciality Guaranteed”
Idrijski žlikrofi (stuffed dumplings from Idrija ) is a traditional dish in the Idrija area. It is made of dough stuffed with boiled potatoes, onion, lard with cracklings, or smoked bacon, and seasoning, and shaped into ravioli-like pockets or small hat-like shapes. In 2002, it obtained the right to be designated a “foodstuff with traditional reputation” in Slovenia, and in January 2010 the European Commission recognized it as a “Traditional Speciality Guaranteed,” thus becoming the first Slovenian product to obtain this designation. The recipe and traditional manner of production are thus protected, but the production is not geographically restricted.
This type of protection has increased the profile of the dish and also given it recognition outside of Slovenia.
By the early 1990s, the Municipality of Idrija designed a municipal development strategy (as part of the Revit program), in which Idrijski žlikrofi were recognized as an important local feature (together with Idrija lace). The main purpose of this registration was to protect the name of the dish and its method of production, with the main goal being the preservation of the quality of Idrijski žlikrofi . At the very beginning, the Department of Food Science at the Ljubljana Biotechnical Faculty was invited to take part in the process.
– The Municipality of Idrija: a distinctive product, and promotion of the town, municipality, and region.
– Accommodation and food-service activities: greater quality and added value of the product, improved promotion of the services provided, and consequently greater profit, higher profile, and improved competitiveness within the sector.
– Tourism: marketing the dish in food-service activities and through various events, its inclusion in Idrija’s story, the opportunity to hold various workshops and culinary events.
– Individuals (locals and visitors) and consumers: strengthening local identity; the dish is healthy and quick to prepare.
– The Idrija-Cerkno Development Agency (ICRA): the influence of the development and promotion of Idrijski žlikrofi on the development of local entrepreneurship and the region in general; assistance in fulfilling the agency’s mission and goals.
– The Republic of Slovenia: greater promotion of traditional cuisine and a higher international profile for Slovenia (Idrijski žlikrofi is also a component part of the food offered at events organized by the Protocol Service of the Republic of Slovenia).
WHY is the best practice considered as good
Receiving the designation and protection
Well-organized awareness raising and promotion within the wider area
Positive effect on the development of the municipality, which obtained an even more recognizable product through protection of the dish
Positive effect on the development of accommodation and food-service activities, and tourism; potential for developing food tourism
A good stimulus for the society, which is already planning further activities, and for other producers and caterers to take an active part in promoting Idrijski žlikrofi and other dishes.
WHAT are the measurable results
Linear increase in the quantity of Idrijski žlikrofi produced after the certificate was awarded (although recently there has been a significant decrease in the quantity produced by restaurant owners);
Increase in sales of frozen Idrijski žlikrofi after entry in the register of protected EU products, including among non-certified producers.
New opportunities created on the local level
Registration and protection of this dish has led those involved to think about what to do next. A project with various activities has already been prepared; it includes the following:
Public collection of recipes for dishes that include Idrijski žlikrofi, including collection of stories about the “žlikrofi”, which can attract more visitors;
Preparing various promotional materials (recipes and stories about Idrijski žlikrofi, presenting the dish from the perspective of culinary providers that advertise it as a top-quality specialty, producing various brochures and promotional materials to raise the profile of certified restaurants and producers that sell frozen “žlikrofi” to the stores);
Conferences: for restaurant owners outside Idrija: the goal is to attract them to this area, while convincing them to pass the story on to other places and to their guests;
A realistic potential to develop the public tasting into an all-day event and later on into a festival for Idrijski žlikrofi (and other Idrija dishes).
The costs of the registration procedures were extremely high. Initially, they were largely covered by municipal and EU funds. ICRA led the procedure and provided a great deal of volunteer work for free. Unfortunately, it is impossible to obtain an accurate or even approximate estimate of the total costs.
The annual costs connected with implementing the required procedures (i.e., certificate maintenance) amount to approximately €9,000. Approximately 30% is spent on the external control, 20% on holding food tastings, and 50% on internal control, coordination, and management of the society’s operations, reports to the MKGP, holding of food tastings, and minimal promotion.
These costs are fully covered by the Municipality of Idrija using funds obtained through various funding applications. Individual certified producers thus primarily bear the costs of holding various tastings and promotions, providing promotional material, and paying the society’s membership fee.
Possibility of tansferring the best practice
The good practice described can be used when there is a distinctive traditional dish in a specific area, in which one can recognize a potential for development and seeks to market it as a “traditional speciality guaranteed.”
The steps for obtaining such a designation include:
Examining the bureaucratic procedures (what the procedure is like for countries within and outside the EU);
Preparing an implementation strategy and verifying whether protection is feasible in terms of costs;
Providing funds for covering the registration fee and annual costs by applying for various public tenders (checking potential (co)funding provided by the municipality, region, and state).