In this article, Questia Group focuses on Romanian autumn traditions and habits, namely on homemade products. Our research was conducted through an online survey on our platform www.questia.ro covering 689 respondents, with a plus or minus 4% margin of error. The survey was active between 19 and 21 September 2017. Our key findings are presented below.

Overview

Every season comes with its particularities and the Romanian culture adapts to each one, from the habits people undertake to the very food they prepare.

Autumn is celebrated in every part of the world through various traditions which are closely related to each culture’s mythology, history and religion. Eliade notes that, in many societies, rituals are considered important precisely because they were established by the mythical gods or heroes: "Myth becomes the exemplary model for all significant human actions". The traditional man sees mythical figures as models to be imitated. Therefore, societies claim that many of their rituals were established by mythical figures, thereby making the rituals seem all the more important.

Many cultures around the world take time during this season to offer gratitude for the bountiful yields of their fields and for loved ones. From celebrating the ones who passed away (Dia de los Muertos, Mexico) or the victory of light over darkness (Diwali Festival of Lights – India) to the massive rubber duck races (Entrenennen – Germany), extreme sports (Bridge Day - Oak Hill, W.V.) and cow fighting tournaments (Battle of the Queens - Switzerland), there is a festival for almost every reason in the fall season.

In this article, we focus on homemade products that are prepared at the beginning of autumn. In this sense, Romanians’ traditional cuisine combines a variety of tasty ingredients and flavors into carefully prepared dishes that are preferred among many when the colder season hits. Some of these special dishes consist of hotchpotch, pickles, fruit stew, vegetable stew (or "zacuscă"), jam and many others. These dishes are mainly made from fermented vegetables or fruits and are considered bio products, as they help supporting a healthy inner ecosystem with friendly bacteria and yeast called probiotics. Probiotic-rich fermented foods can also improve nutrient density, as well as the digestion and absorption of foods.

Current trends on the Romanian organic market prove that the offer of fresh organic foods (such as fruits and vegetables or dairy products) is very low. The main causes for this are related to the inability of steady supply, high storage costs and fluctuating demand for such products. In other European Union countries, 6-8% of the food industry is represented by the organic products, while at the local level it is close to 1%. However, in Romania, eating organic food is rather low compared to other European countries, representing about 0.5% of total food consumption. In the next 5 years, it is expected to hardly reach 2%.

Another important part of Romania’s autumn cuisine is the wine. Romania is one of the world's top-ranking producers of numerous tasty wines and has over 2,000-year tradition in wine. According to The International Organization of Vine and Wine, after two weak crops, Romania came back to a good level of production, with an estimated production of 4.8 million hectoliters for 2016, with 37% more than in 2015, which places Romania on the 13th spot on the ranking of the highest worldwide wine productions. Romania's climate and soil are hospitable to the production of diverse types of wines: from dry, sparkling whites to rich, aromatic, purplish reds. When looking into numbers, domestic wine consumption decreased between 2015 and 2016 by 4.5%, placing the country on 14th place in the world’s top wine-consuming countries, with a consumption of 3.8 mhl of wine in 2016. Romanians currently consume around 22-25 liters per capita, decreasing from 27 liters in the previous years, due to lower purchasing power. Consumer white wines are preferred by 60% of Romanians. Annual wine consumption in Romania is 25 liters per capita and represents only half of developed countries' consumption, which amounts to over 50 liters/capita.

Findings

Among respondents, the most popular homemade products are the pickles with more than half producing it (58.1%) and jam (44.7%). Vegetable stew and fruit stew are preferred to a lesser extent.

Homemade wine proves to be the least produced good, by only 19.1% of respondents. However, even though the percentage may seem relatively low, Romanian homemade wine represents approximately 50-60 percent of total production according to Wine Annual Report and Statistics 2015. Considering the +37% increasing rate of wine production in 2016 stated above, it is expected that homemade production will increase in the following years considering the fast-growing number of plantations.

Nevertheless, more than a quarter of responders (30.9%) are not practicing any of these activities.

Romanians prefer the do-it-yourself way, proving rather conventional, with almost three-quarters (74.2%) disagreeing with the fact that these traditional handmade goodies are useless since you can buy them directly from the stores. Tradition seems to justify the reason for deciding to make these goods at home instead of buying the final products from the supermarkets, with the majority (91.6%) agreeing that these activities pass on the Romanian tradition to further generations.

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