Country Differences in the History of Use of Health Claims and Symbols
Hieke, Sophie ; Kuljanic, Nera ; Fernandez, Laura ; Lähteenmäki, Liisa ; Stancu, Violeta ; Raats, Monique ; Egan, Bernadette ; Brown, Kerry ; Trijp, Hans van; Kleef, Ellen van; Herpen, Erica van; Gröppel-Klein, Andrea ; Leick, Stephanie ; Pfeifer, Katja ; Verbeke, Wim ; Hoefkens, Christine ; Smed, Sinne ; Jansen, Léon ; Laser-Reuterswärd, Anita ; Korošec, Živa ; Pravst, Igor ; Kušar, Anita ; Klopčič, Marija ; Pohar, Jure ; Gracia, Azucena ; Magistris, Tiziana ; Grunert, Klaus - \ 2016
European Journal of Nutrition & Food Safety 6 (2016)3. - ISSN 2347-5641 - p. 148 - 168.
Health-related claims and symbols are intended as aids to help consumers make informed and healthier food choices but they can also stimulate the food industry to develop food that goes hand in hand with a healthier lifestyle. In order to better understand the role that health claims and symbols currently have and in the future potentially can have, the objective of the CLYMBOL project (“Role of health-related claims and symbols in consumer behaviour”, Grant no 311963) is to investigate consumers’ understanding of health claims and symbols, and how they affect purchasing and consumption .
As part of this endeavour, it is important to understand the history of use of claims and symbols in Europe. What have consumers been exposed to and how were these health-related messages used and discussed among the public? In this study, we interviewed key stakeholders across Europe about how health claims have been regulated in their country, how health symbols have been and currently are being treated, what form of monitoring there is or should be and how both health claims and symbols have been debated in the public opinion. In 26 European Union (EU) Member States, opinions from 53 key informants from up to three different stakeholder groups were gathered: national food authorities, representatives of the food industry, and consumer organisations.
While 14 Member States reported (at least partial) regulation of the use of health claims and/or symbols before the introduction of the EU Regulation (EC 1924/2006) on nutrition and health claims made on foods , mandatory reporting of use had only been in place in three EU Member States. A number of voluntary codes of practice for health claims and/or symbols (i.e. pre-approval or justification when challenged) was said to be in use in 15 Member States. There are only a few national databases on health claims and symbols available, the data for which is often incomplete. Only eight Member States reported having some form of database from which information about health claims and symbols could be extracted. The stakeholders interviewed expressed a strong interest in measuring the impact of health claims and symbols, particularly research into the effects on consumer behaviour (e.g. awareness and understanding, attitudes towards products carrying claims and symbols and purchase/consumption effects), public health (health outcomes and changes in national health status due to the introduction of claims and symbols on food products) and economic aspects including sales, return on investment and reputation measurements. Public debates were said to have evolved around the topics of consumer understanding of claims, acceptance as well as trust in the information presented but also the effects on vulnerable groups such as children and elderly consumers. Another field of debate was said to have been the question of the effectiveness of health claims and symbols. Lastly, stakeholders reported that public debates focussed mainly on the legislative aspects, i.e. how to apply the EU Regulation (No 1924/2006) with regards to wording issues, the evaluation process at the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the status of various claims and the nutrient profile modelling to be introduced in Europe.
|The role of health-related claims and symbols in consumer behaviour : The CLYMBOL project
Hieke, Sophie ; Cascanette, Tamara ; Pravst, Igor ; Kaur, Asha ; Trijp, Hans Van; Verbeke, Wim ; Grunert, Klaus G. - \ 2016
Agro Food Industry Hi-Tech 27 (2016)3. - ISSN 1722-6996 - p. 26 - 29.
Consumer behaviour - Food choice - Food labelling - Health claims - Health symbols - Nutrition claims
Health claims and symbols are a convenient tool when it comes to the marketing of foods and they should, in theory, support consumers in making informed food choices, ideally in choosing healthier food products. However, not much is known about their actual impact on consumer behaviour. CLYMBOL ("The Role of health-related CLaims and sYMBOLs in consumer behaviour") is an EU-funded project aiming to study how health claims and symbols influence consumer understanding, purchase and consumption behaviour. During a 4-year period, a wide range of research studies have been conducted across Europe, in order to analyse European consumer behaviour in the context of health claims and symbols. Results of the studies will provide a basis for recommendations for stakeholders such as policy makers, the food industry and consumer and patient organisations.
The role of health-related claims and health-related symbols in consumer behaviour : Design and conceptual framework of the CLYMBOL project and initial results
Hieke, S. ; Kuljanic, N. ; Wills, J.M. ; Pravst, I. ; Kaur, A. ; Raats, M.M. ; Trijp, H.C.M. van; Verbeke, W. ; Grunert, K.G. - \ 2015
Nutrition Bulletin 40 (2015)1. - ISSN 1471-9827 - p. 66 - 72.
Consumer behaviour - Food choice - Food labelling - Health claim - Health symbols
Health claims and symbols are potential aids to help consumers identify foods that are healthier options. However, little is known as to how health claims and symbols are used by consumers in real-world shopping situations, thus making the science-based formulation of new labelling policies and the evaluation of existing ones difficult. The objective of the European Union-funded project Role of health-relatedCLaimsandsYMBOLsin consumer behaviour (CLYMBOL) is to determine how health-related information provided through claims and symbols, in their context, can affect consumer understanding, purchase and consumption. To do this, a wide range of qualitative and quantitative consumer research methods are being used, including product sampling, sorting studies (i.e. how consumers categorise claims and symbols according to concepts such as familiarity and relevance), cross-country surveys, eye-tracking (i.e. what consumers look at and for how long), laboratory and in-store experiments, structured interviews, as well as analysis of population panel data. EU Member States differ with regard to their history of use and regulation of health claims and symbols prior to the harmonisation of 2006. Findings to date indicate the need for more structured and harmonised research on the effects of health claims and symbols on consumer behaviour, particularly taking into account country-wide differences and individual characteristics such as motivation and ability to process health-related information. Based on the studies within CLYMBOL, implications and recommendations for stakeholders such as policymakers will be provided.