Health-related information is increasingly used on food products to convey their benefits. Health claims as a subcategory of these messages link the beneficial component, functions or health outcomes with specific products. For consumers, health claims seem to carry the message of increased healthiness, but not necessarily making the product more appealing. The wording of the claim seems to have little impact on claim perception, yet the health image of carrier products is important. From consumer-related factors the relevance and attitudes towards functional foods play a role, whereas socio-demographic factors have only minor impact and the impact seems to be case-dependent. Familiarity with claims and functional foods increase perceived healthiness and acceptance of these products. Apparently consumers make rather rational interpretations of claims and their benefits when forced to assess the information, but we still know relatively little about consumer understanding of the message content in claims and even less about the assessment of personal relevance of the claimed benefits. In future studies more emphasis should be put on including contextual influences and realistic conditions in assessing consumer understanding and use of health claims in purchase decisions.
Food Quality and Preference, 2013, Vol 27, p. 196-201
Health claims; Consumer behaviour; Functional foods; Food choice