Hyper-regional foods are hot right now, and smart food businesses have been quick to get on trend. In regional Victoria, one small town has discovered that going hyper-regional is not only good for business, but also for the town’s economy by attracting local, and tourism dollars.
Taking hyper-regional to town
The historic town of Clunes in Victoria is known for its books. The only internationally recognised Booktown in Australia, the annual Clunes Booktown Festival has played a key role in boosting the local economy and putting this little village on the map. But it’s the use of local produce and storytelling that has turned a sense of place into a real business asset for the town’s small businesses.
What is hyper-regional food?
Hyper-regional food is just as it sounds: local produce and recipes that are core to the identity of a place. In Georgia in the U.S.—where John Pemberton invented Coca-Cola—the 500-something brands represented under the Coca-Cola umbrella are all icons. In the Australian town of Clunes, its produce is grown from surrounding farms and wineries that are becoming ubiquitous with eating in the small town.
Surrounded by farms, the cafés and pubs in Clunes have access to the types of fresh produce you’d expect to find in a regional area. There is the local farmer who has turned butcher to supply locally grown lamb and beef. The beekeeper—whose beehives are on properties throughout the district—produces honey with flavours unique to each field. There’s even a peanut farmer who makes Clunes’ favourite peanut butter. However, what is unexpected is the way businesses take advantage of the stories behind the food to create a unique sense of place for customers eating in their establishments.
It’s in the history
Businesses understand that the hyper-regional trend is about the combination of fresh produce, local history and your ability to tell a tale.
Local winegrower Jane Lesock of Mt. Beckworth Wines has made hyper-regional her business. Offering locally grown wines from her nearby vineyard provides people with a true taste of Clunes and its surrounding countryside.
“We were one of the first wine producers to take our cellar door into the village,” says Lesock, whose retail outlet recently celebrated 10 years of business.
“People like to know where the grapes are grown and how they are produced, but they also want a story as well.”
Mt. Beckworth Wines makes sure their story is front and centre, naming their collection after family members. Each sale comes with a tale, ensuring customers remember the wine long after the bottle is empty.
Putting the hype in hyper-regional
“Trends come and go,” says Matt O’Kelly, proprietor of O’Hara’s @ Clunes Bakery, known locally for their own custard kringle and speciality chunky beef pies.
“It’s hard for a small business to really create the momentum to take advantage of those trends alone. But when all the traders feature local food or recipes, it’s easier for us to work together to promote that locally and to tourists.
“In Clunes, the traders do this through our Clunes Tourist Development Association, town websites and media releases.
“Now when people come to our bakery and ask for a pie, they ask for a Clunes pie.”
Trends that work for you
Whether the hyper-regional food choice on your menu is produced or grown locally, or is simply a recipe with a tale, make sure you can leverage off it to drive traffic to your hotel, restaurant or café. Why? Because the most important part of being on trend is making sure that the trend works for you.
About the Author
Lana de Kort is a published author and business writer with over 20 years experience working with industry, commerce and community. In 2014 she co-founded a network of over 21 writers across Australia.