In what they called, “almost the first assessment” of the Turkish functional foods market from a consumer point of view, females were found to be almost three times more aware of functional foods than men and better educated people were 1.4 times more aware of them.
Those who used vitamins and mineral food supplements had greater knowledge of functional foods by a factor of 1.2, as did older people (3.4).
Consumers with genetic dispositions to certain diseases or ailments like heart disease or high cholesterol were also more likely to use functional foods like plant sterol-stanol margarines for lowering cholesterol and fortified juices and cereals.
“The most important goal of functional food manufacturers should be to teach and educate consumers about their products, the ingredients used in them and their corresponding health benefits,” the researchers said.
The 808 participants between the ages of 20 and 80 were asked to fill in questionnaires that asked them about:
(1) rewards of using functional food
(2) benefits of functional food
(3) confidence in functional food
(4) necessity of functional food
(5) functional food as medicine
(6) taste of functional food
(7) information about functional food.
They emphasised the importance of organoleptic properties, especially taste.
“…participants scoring functional foods high on taste were more likely to have consumed herbal tea to help digestion, breakfast cereals fortified with vitamins and minerals, and mineral water than low-scoring participants,” the researchers wrote.
But overall, “consumers do not have enough knowledge about functional foods in this context.”
“From this point of view, companies should perform informative and demand-stimulating marketing strategies. Consumer doubts related with asserted health effects of functional foods could be also removed by taking support from scientific experts in this field.”
Published online September 2 (DOI: 10.1111/ijcs.12134)
‘Consumers' awareness, acceptance and attitudes towards functional foods in Turkey’
Authors: Aylin Büyükkaragöz, Murat Bas, Duygu Sağlam, Şaziye Ecem Cengiz