Consumers of organic food name health motives as an important driver of their choice. Interestingly, triggering health motives in food choice is exactly the reason why nutrition and health claims have been developed for the communication of functional food. Thus, both product concepts have similar consumer purchase motives in common. Organic food and functional food are, however, often described as contradictory rather than complementary in amongst others the concept of health. Functional food tends to be perceived as ‘unnatural’ by consumers. So far, it has not been researched how consumers react to a combination of both product concepts. A realistically designed purchase simulation was conducted with 210 organic consumers in Germany. Five organic products in three different categories were offered, unobtrusively altered so that they showed a nutrition, health or risk reduction claim on two products in each choice set. The results show that products with a claim were not significantly preferred nor rejected. Occasional organic buyers, however, were significantly more likely to choose products with a claim. Choice of a product with a claim was determined by whether respondents had read the claim and thought it indicated equal or better health performance. Among those for which the latter was the case, respondents choosing a product with a claim were characterised by being occasional organic food buyers and being less sceptical about health-related information on products. It can be concluded that nutrition and health claims can be beneficial in the marketing of organic products, especially when addressing occasional organic consumers.
Food Quality and Preference, 2013, Vol 30, Issue 1, p. 68-76