Artisan food production: What makes food ‘artisan’?

Lingham, Sophia; Hill, Inge and Manning, Louise (2022). Artisan food production: What makes food ‘artisan’? In: Dana, L.P.; Ramadani, V.; Palalic,, R. and Salamzadeh, A. eds. Artisan and Handicraft Entrepreneurs: Past, Present and Future. Contributions to Management Science. Springer, Cham, pp. 101–117.



Artisan food is characterised as being made through creativity, passion and traditional methods and with traditional ingredients. John McKenna describes this as the quartet of place, product, passion and personality of the producer, with tradition being implicit rather than explicit in this description. This chapter considers the contemporary framing of artisan food and artisan producers, how the use of the term ‘artisan’ has evolved over time, and the emergent trends within the artisan food sector. The research question arising from these ideas is, Can artisan food be both innovative and traditional at the same time? The chapter discusses three food producers and critically evaluates the extent to which they fit within existing definitions of ‘artisan food’. The term ‘artisan’ can be said to be socially constructed; that is, the meaning is constantly reconstructed as new innovations are adopted and associated with place, product and producer. Artisan food needs to stand out in some contemporary way from more mass-produced food, especially as it often has higher costs of production or includes an embedded environmental or social value that the purchaser must be willing to pay for.

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