Institute of Food Economics and Consumption Studies

Consumer Behaviour Concerning Functional Foods

Functional foods as a marketing term was initiated in Japan in the late 1980s and is used to describe foods fortified with compounds or ingredients capable of generating health benefits. This concept has become more and more popular with consumers because of a growing awareness of the relation between healthiness, nutrition, and diet. Functional food ingredients include for example probiotics, prebiotics, vitamins, and minerals and are found in such diverse products as fermented milk and yoghurt, sports drinks, baby foods, sugar-free confectionery, and chewing gum. 

In Europe, Germany represents one of the most important countries within the functional food market. Although the market share of functional food is below 1% of the total food and drinks market, market estimations assume an increase of 5% in Europe until 2013.  In Germany in the years 1999 and 2000 19% of all innovations in the total food and drinks market were traced back to functional foods. Furthermore, 20% of these functional food innovations have been functional dairy products. Hence, besides soft drinks dairy products play an important role with regard to functional food innovations. Due to this development it is of major interest for food policy and industry to investigate empirically demand, determinants of demand as well as consumers’ preferences and willingness to pay for functional dairy foods.

The study will conduct a survey in Germany where a stated choice experiment is used to examine acceptance of and willingness to pay for functional dairy products. Only a few authors have analysed willingness to pay for functional foods using choice experiments. None of the studies attempted to focus on dairy products even though the most active area within the functional foods market in Europe are probiotic dairy products, particularly, probiotic yoghurts and milks. The present study does not only contribute to the growing literature by employing the choice experiment methodology regarding the acceptance of functional foods, but it also pushes it to the next level applying it in the context of dairy products.

This study takes place within ‘Food Chain Plus’ (FoCus) – a project at the Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel which analyses the food supply chain along the entire process chain. FoCus integrates the preventive approach of food science research and it develops innovative concepts in relation to the food supply chain. There are four cooperative projects within FoCus: production of milk and efficiency of resources, feeding and animal health, genetic variability and functional milk compounds, evaluation of health effects and consumer behaviour.

Kompetenznetzwerk “FoCus – Food Chain Plus”: Forschung in der Wertschöpfungskette Milch