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Do consumers understand and trust functional foods? Not really, say experts

By Nathan Gray+, 20-Nov-2012

Related topics: Industry

While EFSA’s health claims dossier may pave the way towards tighter regulations on what can and cannot be said about a food's potential benefit, the way that consumers understand and interact with functional foods seems to remain mainly unchanged. For now at least…

Do consumers understand - and trust - functional foods? And what can industry do improve its chances of success in this tough market? Two leading experts in the area told us that big brands, and simple messages probably hold the keys to functional food success.

Speaking with FoodNavigator and NutraIngredients, Chris Brockman, senior global food & drink analyst, Mintel, told us that consumers have a real problem with trusting functional foods.

“There’s a real issue around trust and scepticism about the whole market,” warned Brockman. “And that creates an opportunity for established brands in particular.”

Prof Stefanie Bröring, professor of food chain management, University of Applied Science, Germany echoed Brockman’s warning, adding that most consumers don’t think about ‘functional foods’ as a concept, but instead have loyalty to brands.

“Connecting with simple benefits is the key,” Brockman suggested.

“This depends on the personal health status of the consumer,” said Bröring. “A person who hasn’t got any health problems won’t be searching for a lot of information, and also won’t get the concept of being functional.”