Workshop Policies and strategies for the development of the food system in the city of Iași

Workshop Policies and strategies for the development of the food system in the city of Iași

Yesterday, May 24, 2022, the workshop Policies and Strategies for the Development of the Food System took place in Iași. The event was organized within the Food for Iasi Living Lab hub by the Iasi City Hall and the Romanian Academy, Iasi Branch. The meeting was dedicated to discussions with representatives of public institutions in the food system of the city of Iași and sought to identify some problems of this system from the point of view of the local authorities. The identified problems will be the subject of the work agenda for future meetings with other actors and agents of the urban food system.

The meeting had the following agenda:

  • Opening speech (Daniel Juravle, Deputy Mayor of the Municipality of Iași)
  • Presentation of the Cities2030 project (Codrin Dinu Vasiliu, Romanian Academy, Iasi Branch)
  • Presentation of Food for Iași Living Lab (Ioan Sebastian Brumă, Romanian Academy, Iași Branch)
  • Discussions on proposed topics (Moderators: Mihaela Popișa, Iași City Hall, and Ioan Sebastian Brumă, Romanian Academy, Iași Branch):
  • Identification of problems and solutions in the Iași food system, for example, the integration of local producers in the Iași economy, public procurement of local products (school canteens, the Milk and Corn program), and consumer access to local food products. Integration of the project and the hub in the projects and actions of local authorities and the organization of food events, e.g.: flying markets, CITIES2030 Workshop within the ESports World Championship 2023 – live cooking Food Court, public food spaces in the Airport – local producers in the context of the development of terminal 4.

Discussion summary:

Mention: The discussions during this workshop were informal and, in the context of the objectives of the Cities2030 project, aimed at identifying some of the problems of the food system of the city of Iași, to strengthen the communication environment on policies and development strategies, between administration, governance and other actors of the food system. The opinions expressed were part of a process of brainstorming and active co-creation, which does not imply any institutional commitment on the part of the participants. The purpose of these discussions is informal and consists in identifying possible problems that will be proposed in the future in the discussions with the other actors of the food system.

Discussions on the event organizers’ proposal regarding the integration of local producers in Terminal 4, which is to be built in the Iași Airport.

  • The integration of local producers in the new terminal 4 of the Iași Airport, currently under construction, will depend on the stage of completion of the works.
  • Terminal 4 will have a large area, relative to terminals 1, 2, and 3. In the case of terminal 4, there will be three levels of one hectare each.
  • Thus, the surface is generous for commercial spaces but also for spaces to promote the identity of the city of Iași and the region.
  • At the same time, airports in general are very tempting for companies that routinely use food court spaces.
  • At the same time, in airports around the world, two approaches are practiced: renting predefined spaces or contracting companies specialized in bringing big brands, including in the food area.
  • The importance of local brands, on the other hand, should not be ignored, because they even contribute to the identity of the airport.
  • Every tourist must know that he has arrived in Iași also through the visual messages from the airport. In this context, local producers represent a component that could contribute to this institutional, but also local, marketing.
  • Opening the issue of preferential tariffs, it was emphasized that there are certain legislative impediments to these preferential tariffs if they were to be granted to local producers.
  • For these impediments, solutions must eventually be found.
  • At the same time, within the airport, the best solutions for the presentation and marketing infrastructure of local food brands must also be sought.
  • Thus, the locations with the strongest commercial and marketing impact are in the airport security area. But, in these areas, there are problems related to the packaging of local food products proposed under local brands.
  • At the same time, very clear criteria must be identified for the selection of the best and representative local producers with attention to the maximum impact on tourists and airport users. In this sense, local manufacturers are encouraged to work more on presentation and packaging solutions.
  • Local products can also be promoted in the food court area of ​​the airport, in the form of cooked food. Iași Airport is interested in promoting local brands and, implicitly, local producers.
  • The brands of local producers come with attractive stories and can contribute to the development of the brand of the airport and the city of Iași, but these producers must be helped.
  • The Rural Development Research Platform Association already contributes to the support of these local producers, especially through the GustDeIaș platform, but also through the actions through which it is trained in synergies with the Cities2030 project. However, the implementation of such actions requires solving certain problems.
  • As far as local producers are concerned, they have to solve certain issues related to both the organization of their offer and the associative structure under which they can develop this offer.
  • One of the most important problems is the size of the offer from local producers.
  • They should opt for larger associative forms, to come up with an offer commensurate with the new traffic expected in the airport of Iași, through the construction of Terminal 4.
  • Here, the weak associative culture of local producers in Iași and the North-East Development Region was emphasized again.

Discussions on the associative culture of local producers

  • Regarding the issue of the associative culture of local producers, the Association of Local Producers Produs in Iași and the BioNest cluster were mentioned as local models. E
  • ach of these associative structures must respond to certain challenges of expansion and coagulation. Their status as main actors in the food system in Iasi depends on this fact.
  • At the same time, the need for competitiveness of local producers was also discussed. But to increase the level of competitiveness, the local administration must also find new ways to support them.
  • Good practice models can also be used to increase competitiveness and were given, for example, Produced in the Cluj and Agrotransilvania Cluster.
  • At the same time, the Cities2030 project, through the size of the consortium, can offer models of European best practices.
  • Another idea in this regard was that larger structures could access more substantial funds.
  • The idea of ​​setting up an associative form like a federation of food producers and associations was also raised. Because the NGO environment must also be supported and involved in associative and support actions for local producers.
  • It was mentioned, in this sense, that the Iași City Hall already provides funding for such NGOs and these funding instruments should be developed in the future.
  • The associative culture among local producers can also be developed through direct discussions with them, to identify problems related to poor coagulation, to find solutions, and also to motivate them to get more involved in associative actions.
  • One problem in the associative culture in the region is that small local producers tend to settle for a small business.

Local producer profile

  • The profile of the local producer in Romania is not very clearly defined. Some merchants take advantage of this quality and operate under this umbrella, although they are not granted any right by an institution in Romania.
  • A very important issue was raised about the profile of the local producer in the area of ​​certification, in the area of ​​his concern for food security, and about his contribution to increasing consumer confidence in local products.
  • Certifications must be respected. Food trade in the gray area of ​​certification must be combated. We must always keep food security in mind.
  • Successful producers must be promoted by all actors in the food system. Local producers, because they are generally small businesses, do not have the energy to invest in marketing and do not have brand intelligence.
  • That is precisely why they must be helped to develop their brand and differentiate themselves from those who speculate on this quality of local producers, certified by state institutions.
  • Market access of certified local producers must be further supported. Taxation of the business in the case of local producers can be an advantage.
  • Card payments and advance payments can give consistency and security to the business. At the same time, they can help personalize the clientele.

Another effect of developing associative behavior among local producers. Involvement in the HORECA industry

  • Although we have recently come out of the pandemic, the hotels in Iași are starting to be overcrowded. It is a sign that, shortly, the accommodation capacity may increase and, as such, the need for food products in the HORECA industry in Iași may constitute an opportunity for local producers.
  • Local producers can develop if they align themselves with the new HORECA challenges of the urban food system in Iasi.
  • A direct meeting between local producers and the HORECA industry in Iași was proposed, but the issue of representativeness of local producers, who do not yet have a large representation structure, was recalled.
  • Local producers, at the same time, have to adapt more and more to the HORECA industry.
  • Although the prices are higher in the case of local producers, in the HORECA industry these prices can be justified by the added value offered by the food products.
  • Some local producers lack marketing intelligence. Wine producers are more experienced in this direction and could be used as models of good practice.

Local events and the involvement of local producers

  • Regarding the urban food events in Iași, dedicated to local producers or in which local producers represent an important component, the discussions mainly focused on the events that frequently take place on the pedestrian street Ștefan cel Mare, located in the center of Iași, in front of the town hall, on the esplanade from the Central Hall square, the Păcurari weekend market, the floating food markets, the neighborhood markets, the Green Market in the neighborhoods, thematic events, the international E-sports event, from 2023, thematic fairs (lavender and roses, of local cherries).
  • Păcurari market is an example of good practices, but its infrastructure needs to be developed. At the same time, the problem of parking for consumers must be solved.
  • Consumer information about these events should be better organized. It was argued that themed events have a greater benefit for local food producers.
  • The idea of ​​creating a digital platform for the centralization and promotion of local food events was born, a platform that could be initiated by Iași City Hall.
  • There is some overlap of important food events and this should be avoided in the future. Hala Centrală Square, considering the project of the Iași City Hall to personalize the experience of buyers, can also be an opportunity to locate and promote local producers.
  • Food events must be diversified for the development of healthy food consumption behaviors.
  • Consumers are looking for places to buy food similar to the markets or stores they have seen on their vacations abroad.
  • Within the Cities2030 project, there will be a meeting attended by most of the 41 partners from 19 European countries.
  • This meeting can be an opportunity to exchange know-how for the development of the socio-economics of local producers.
  • As far as food events are concerned, activities with a food component in the metropolitan area must also be promoted.

Gastronomic events during the 2023 ESports World Championship

  • The 2023 ESports World Championship is a very important one both in terms of its scope and its international character.
  • At the same time, it is an event that attracts the very young generation from 100 countries.
  • This event will take place in September 2023 and this date represents an opportunity for actions to promote local producers, carried out through the Food for Iași Living Lab, within the Cities2030 project.
  • As in the case of the airport in Iași, this event brings tourists, but also local consumers the interaction with the food culture of the city of Iași.
  • Tourists are very interested in gastronomic culture. They can promote local food culture and local tourism or even local culture.
  • At the same time, certain gifts for participants can be thought of in the form of local food kits. It can also be discussed at a future meeting in connection with the organization of a Romanian gastronomic evening within the event.

Promoting the idea of ​​healthy eating

  • The participants in this meeting also assumed the role of consumers and opened certain topics related to consumption in the food system of the city of Iași.
  • Thus, it was emphasized that all actors in the food system must contribute more to correctly informing consumers, promoting the idea of ​​healthy eating, and promoting successful producers.
  • Consumer behavior must be stimulated in the sense of a healthier diet and the sense of its orientation towards certified products.


  • The most important challenge for us, the partners from Iasi in the Cities2030 project, was raised by a participant who asked us what a local producer means, not from the point of view of a dictionary definition, but from the point of view of our directions of action for the support of local producers.
  • We believe that such a challenge must be carefully considered in the activities of the Food for Iași Living Lab hub, in the sense of removing the local producer from the dictionary and bringing it to the center of our actions.
  • Another challenge is related to the fact that the city of Iași is an important university center. Thus, foreign students can be involved in promoting the local gastronomic culture.
  • Although we are not explicitly oriented to the problem of food waste, we were suggested to find a solution to integrate our actions within the project in this direction as well.
  • Considering especially the local culture regarding food wastage in traditional Romanian events (weddings, baptisms, funerals, and so on). Another challenge relates to connecting our intervention actions in the rural areas directly connected with the urban food system in Iași.
  • Thus, the evaluation of the agricultural potential of the metropolitan area or the updating of the agricultural registers in the nearby rural areas have immediate effects in the proper functioning of the food system of the city of Iași.
  • The discussion was opened for replicating the actions of the Cities2030 project in the city of Iași and another city in the region.

Continuity of the workshop

  • The issues raised during this workshop will be subject to debate in future meetings with local producers, but also with other actors of the food system in Iași, which will take place in the Food for Iași Living Lab hub.
  • As a result of these discussions, two questionnaires were created that will collect data regarding the opportunity to organize the flying agri-food markets dedicated to local producers in the city’s neighborhoods these questionnaires will be applied among producers, but also among citizens, to identify the best solutions of interaction between them, but also to find out the needs and opportunities both in terms of food production and consumption.