In order to improve the availability of educational platforms in food and gastro tourism as a new interdisciplinary domain based on new trends in demand for different categories of food, the University of Economics in Križevci has been implementing the Gastrotop project for several months.

One of a series of activities planned by the project was held last Friday at the VGUK premises in Križevci. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, only students from Križevci attended the workshop, while other participants as well as panelists joined the workshop online.

The emphasis this time was on “IN” because the goal of the project is to be innovative and find out what the situation is on the topic of food tolerance among consumers and in catering facilities. Therefore, through project activities, such as panel discussions, workshops and competitions in student ideas aimed at offering food in rural tourism economies – seeks to support caterers in meeting the different nutritional needs of consumers.

– In order to better prepare for the panel discussion, we conducted, in cooperation with Hungarian partners and partners from the Polytechnic of Virovitica, a survey on Google form intended for randomly selected respondents and consumers. The criterion for selecting respondents is their adulthood and residency status in the Koprivnica-Križevci and Virovitica-Podravina counties. So far, 439 respondents have responded to the survey. On the other hand, we surveyed a total of 10 owners of catering facilities, but only from the area of ​​Koprivnica-Križevci County – explained Dr. sc. Kristina Svržnjak.

The results of the research showed that more than 30% of respondents have a problem related to food or drink, or an allergy or intolerance to certain foods or drinks. Since this can be controlled when we prepare food at home, the question arises as to how this is regulated when consuming food and beverages in restaurants. The research also found that respondents go to restaurants for an average of 32 days a year.

The panel discussed issues related to food tolerance by consumers and caterers and suggestions for possible improvements.

– Considering that the trend of “healthy eating” prevails in society today, the nutritional approach in planning and shaping the offer in the hospitality industry is very important. Guests in restaurants expect more nutritional information and more professional help when choosing food, so nutrition as a science of nutrition is increasingly associated with catering and tourism, and, as expected, with rural tourism – explained Dr. sc. Sandra Kantar.

At the end of the panel, the moderator pointed out that in the continuation of the project, and especially in the preparation of student ideas, will be guided by the modified vision and mission of the Research and Development Department in Podravka d.d. “Our vision and mission is to help student tourism economies create value-added products for the health and hedonism of their guests.”

The panel discussion was attended by Mišel Doskočil, professor of cooking and top chef from Ivan Seljanec High School, Križevci, Marija Goričanec, president of the Association of Celiac Diseases, Koprivnica, Jasmina Rakić Horvat, representative of the Croatian Rural Tourism Association and owner of rural tourism “Rakić”, Križevci , Miroslav Kanisek, head of the Sweet Heart Diabetes Club, Koprivnica, Davorka Gajari, director of the Department of Nutrition and Sensors, Podravka.

The moderator of the discussion was Kristina Svržnjak from VGUK.

The purpose of the Gastrotop project is to develop comprehensive educational support for food producers and food storage service providers that will facilitate the demand for new special nutritional needs of the market. So, learn how to respond to the new needs of the market and adapt to it through the offer of new forms of food (functional food, healthy food, trendy food, food of special nutritional value (). Also, the purpose of the project is to encourage and develop a commitment to the development of entrepreneurship in the field of food production among agricultural students in the cross-border area (HU-HR).

– Such educational support in the form of education of entrepreneurs in the gastro-tourism sector and students of vocational schools (workshops conducted by ZMKIK, SKIK and VUV) and students of agriculture-primary food production (VGUK and MATE) will enable education and training to adapt gastro tourism offers, as the ultimate goal of the project, in cross-border counties, and in accordance with current requirements and trends in food consumption and consumption in the tourism sector and thus positively affect the situation of self-employment of young people and employment in general in the tourism sector – explained VGUK.

Higher education institutions are involved in the project as active initiators of the promotion of education related to innovative food production in the function of creating an offer for special food restrictions of the consumer market.

– The primary target group are current students of VGUK and MATE who will be encouraged to conduct extracurricular education through workshops and panel discussions on gastro distribution chains, ie ways of producing innovative food, its marketing and marketing, ie will develop the ability to think entrepreneurially and act in domains of food production, processing and marketing. The basic target groups also include vocational (catering) secondary schools (SKIK, ZMKIK and VUV). A special training program will be prepared for them, where new innovative trends in food production, preparation and supply will be presented through a 30-hour training – they explain.

Secondary target groups are current decision makers, food producers, agri-food processors, gastro-tourism entities (restaurants) for which workshops will be organized on various food approaches / trends in food preparation (SKIK, ZMKIK).

The third target group is disadvantaged people (mentally or physically ill) who will benefit from workshops and training through their involvement in taking into account their specific nutritional needs.

The project will create informal education programs for students and food service providers (entrepreneurs in tourism), a study on the inclusion of individual stakeholders in the food tourism system and a manual for educational support of food service providers that facilitate the search for special / new food categories dietary restrictions in identified target groups. It also includes exchange programs, a competition of business ideas and a student creative camp.

The Križevci VGUK project has been implemented since June 2021 in cooperation with partners from the University of Kaposvár (MATE), the Polytechnic of Virovitica (VVT), the Kaposvar Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SKIK) and the Zalaegerszeg Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ZMKIK).

The total value of the project is 291,243 EUR, of which VGUK accounts for 60,282 EUR.

Professional support during the implementation of the project is provided by PORA Regional Development Agency of Koprivnica-Križevci County.

“The contents of this material are the sole responsibility of the College of Economics and Business in Križevci and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union and / or the Managing Authority.”

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