Registered dietitian and nutritionist Erin Boyd Kappelhoff is managing partner of Eat Well Global.
She spoke of the increasing sway that “uncredentialed influencers”, such as bloggers and celebrity chefs, have over consumers in the area of health, nutrition and food.
These celebrities are mission driven, passionate and speak directly to thousands of followers every day – but many of them are not science-based, said Kappelhoff. “It’s not necessarily a bad thing – look at Jamie Oliver and his mission of improving nutrition in schools – but it can backfire if you look to these influencers too much. You need to find right match. You’re not talking to consumers but health influencers.”
Industry should recognise that individuals are faced with increasing amounts of conflicting information.
Green Happiness, for instance is a healthy eating company run by two Dutch qualified nutritionists who have become celebrities in their own right, said Kappelhoff, but their advice rejects the country’s national dietary guidelines and preaches a free-from diet.
Meanwhile companies should be aware of the variations in nutritional advice according to the region. “This means you can change the way you need to market and target your product in different countries accordingly.”
Kappelhoff experienced this first-hand when researching eating habits in Brazil. Her interviewees – which included nutritionists – did not want to talk about how frequently Brazilians eat dairy products but preferred to talk about lactose, which is associated with weight-gain by many people in the country.