How Trøndelag became a top gastronomic destination

Trøndelag was awarded European Region of Gastronomy status in 2022. No other Norwegian city or region has been awarded this distinction before.

In the Nordic region, only Aarhus in Denmark and Kuopio in Finland are on the same prestigious list. The renowned travel magazine Condé Nast Traveler featured Trøndelag as one of the top three destinations for food experiences, and one of the 22 best destinations in 2022.

“The area’s diverse landscape—forests, mountains, fjords, and fields—produces high-quality seafood, organic dairy products, and fresh vegetables, which farmers share locally and with restaurants around the world,” writes Condé Nast Traveler.

Trøndelag has gained a lot of international and national attention as a food destination. And Trøndelag itself has ambitions of becoming Norway’s leading food region, as well as a strong food region in a European perspective. There is much to suggest that it is well on its way to achieving this. But what lies behind this success?

“The focus on food in Trøndelag has not been a sprint. The efforts can instead be described as a marathon to which the entire Trøndelag team has contributed. Access to good natural resources, fantastic fresh ingredients, expertise, and funding have brought the region to the forefront,” says Aud Herbjørg Kvalvik at Innovation Norway.

The business network is bearing fruit

Its resource base means that in many ways Trøndelag was destined for food production. The Gulf Stream washes plenty of temperate, nutrient-rich water along the coastline. The right mixture of sun and rain ensure good growth in fields and meadows. Farmers from Trøndelag cultivate almost 400,000 acres and in 2022 companies based in Trøndelag exported NOK 26 billion worth of fish.

The county was an early adopter with respect to producing and selling locally sourced food. Den Gyldne Omvei cooperative was Trøndelag’s first modern food and experience network. Some 20 different Inderøy companies were behind the partnership, which wanted to offer Norwegian and international guests experiences, local food, and culture. A short time after, 27 companies in the Røros area formed Rørosmat SA, in which they collaborate on sales, joint brands, and storage and logistics solutions.

Both networks have used several of Innovation Norway’s advisory and funding services, and both have functioned as role models and mentors for new food and experience networks from across the country.

“The decision to establish a food value creation programme was what changed everything. Innovation Norway was given a sensible remit, adequate funds, and sufficient predictability to focus on the programme. This meant that customer advisers could work with the industry in a targeted and systematic fashion, and that the farmers and producers dared to throw themselves into trying something completely new. We must simply thank the Storting’s Standing Committee on Business and Industry from the turn of the millennium for their ambition and willingness to follow this up,” continues Kvalvik.

Programme to improve Norwegian food diversity

The food value creation programme was established to improve food diversity in Norway. With NOK 100 million a year through the Agricultural Agreement, opportunities arose. In 2001, Rørosmeieriet became the first company to receive a grant from the value creation programme.

Trøndelag has been able to use a large proportion of the funds, now called the Development Programme for Agricultural and Reindeer Husbandry-Based Growth and Value Creation, every year. The money has largely gone to individual companies, although grants for building up food expertise, networks, and sales arenas have been just as important for the position Trøndelag has achieved as a local food region.

The Trøndelag Food Festival was arranged for the first time in 2005. Innovation Norway has contributed to the event every year and still works closely with the arranger, Oi! Trøndersk Mat og Drikke AS.

The festival has become an attraction for both Norwegian and international guests. The International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Arts and Tourism (IGCAT) visited the festival in 2019. IGCAT’s discovery of the Trøndelag Food Festival, and the fact that Visit Trondheim initiated an application from Trøndelag County Authority and Trondheim Municipality, resulted in Trøndelag being awarded European Region of Gastronomy status in 2022.

Arranging this year’s Cheese World Championships

Trondheim hosted the Michelin Awards in February 2020. In autumn 2023, it will host the Cheese World Championships and in 2024 the Bocuse d’Or Europe.

Many have contributed to the positive development of food diversity in Trøndelag.

“Over the last 20 years, Innovation Norway Trøndelag has allocated around NOK 1.9 billion to 4,600 projects in the green sector. A large proportion has gone to the mainstay of local food production in Trøndelag, traditional agriculture. We estimate that the allocations to local food production and food service amount to NOK 300 million spread over 1,000 individual cases,” says Kvalvik.