In this study we investigate the LEADER program, specifically the role of local products in the livelihood of economic actors. We also investigate the characteristics and problems of this supporting form (if these affect the operators’ selection and economic behaviour), and we point out the impact of local products on the image of regions. Fieldwork was carried out in two disadvantaged areas of Hungary: in the settlements of the Eastern-Northern Szatmár LEADER and the Western Zala Termálvölgye LEADER, basically by means of interviews. Besides these, we analysed the web sites and developmental documents of local action groups. In this study we refer to two kinds of local product producing: the “need-supplying” and the “brand-creating” types. The difference between them – according to our results – lies in the definition of consumers and product markets. In the first part of our study we present the characteristics of these two types and then we investigate – according to the LEADER terminology – “communal” and “entrepreneurial” local product producers, demonstrating that these actors’ groups are not coherent. Finally, we investigate the role of local products in image creation at regional level, analysing the results and difficulties of the branding process in these two regions.

Keywords: local products, LEADER, economic actors, local market, image of the region

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