Regional products play an increasingly important role in European economies and policies. The economic value of these products is considerable, and they are frequently regarded as significant generators of rural and regional development. But what processes underlie the formation of a regional product? While literature has rightly called for attention to be paid to the contextual nature of regional products, this article aims to take a progressive step within the discourse and explore if – given the contextual nature of regional products – specific patterns can be identified that serve to make products regional. To this end I investigate the qualification of a reinvented agricultural product, madder (Rubia tinctorum), which was grown to produce dyestuff, in Zeeland, The Netherlands. Based on the case of Zeeland madder and a comparison with other regional products I identify five qualification patterns, namely essentialism, strategic positioning, identity work, internal mobilisation and localising control. These patterns cross the divide between economy and culture and show how both elements become interwoven in the process of making products ‘‘regional’’. Moreover the patterns usefully highlight the hybridity of regional products, i.e. their association with alternative food networks and conventional food networks.