Bridging the benefit-ingredient knowledge gap

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Health benefits Nutrition Marketing

Companies need to do more to link health benefits and those particular ingredients that deliver them to capitalise on consumer interest, according to research commissioned by Beneo-Orafti.

The Belgian-based global inulin and oligofructose leader polled consumers in the UK and Spain and found that while they were highly interested in brands that carried health benefits, they often failed to understand which ingredients delivered those benefits, nor how.

Bone, heart and digestive health were the top three health concerns.

The knowledge gap

Beneo-Orafti found 88 per cent of Spanish consumers would buy an Orafti inulin-fortified juice even at a price premium. But understanding often went little further than the basic idea that a product was healthy.

“Although consumers might know the names of key ingredients such as vitamin C, calcium, wholegrain or prebiotics, they do not necessarily equate these names with the key health benefits the ingredients provide,”​ Beneo-Orafti said of the research.

“By communicating more about the health benefits over and above the names of the ingredients included in the product, manufacturers can add significant value to already premium brands.”

Beneo highlighted such knowledge gaps by formulating a consumer knowledge ratio based on a scale of 10 for benefits and accompanying ingredients. Calcium performed best with a ‘Builds stronger bone’ claim gaining an 8.01 reading, with calcium’s bone health link coming in at 7.61.

‘Boosts the friendly bacteria in your digestive system’ scored 7.95, while prebiotics scored 5.88. ‘Lowers cholesterol’ notched 7.86, with plant sterols having the lowest awareness among consumers with 4.70.

In each case the health benefit was more important than the ingredient.

"The results of the preliminary study in the UK and Spain show that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution in these countries and that the most potential in a given category and for a given brand depends on many factors,”​ said Beneo-Orafti managing director, Dominic Speleers.

“Not only has this new consumer research provided Beneo-Orafti with a valuable consumer insight tool that is helping the company plan future product developments, but it can also be used by the company's business partners to develop attractive food concepts that appeal to the consumer and that are easily understood."

Product examples included a juice fortified with vitamins A, C and E, for which calcium absorption was the most appealing benefit.

Sudzucker Group-owned Beneo-Orafti has researched other European countries and the US and these results will be released shortly.

Beneo-Orafti operates in more than 75 countries and has production units for its chicory-derived ingredients in Belgium and Chile.

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