The objective of this project was to develop a shared Nordic view among stakeholders on how health claims should be used in marketing with the emphasis on consumer understanding and how the new EU-legislation (Regulation (1924/2006) on health claims will be interpreted.
Functional foods are a rapidly increasing section of the market and hold a huge promise for products that can be sold with a premium to consumers. However, developing these products is costly as health claims need to be scientifically substantiated. To have an impact health and well being these products have to be accepted among consumers and their messages need to be understood so that the right target groups can benefit from using the right products.
The work was divided in four tasks. First an overview of the previous regulations in each Nordic country was compiled in order to understand where from each country entered the shared EU-legislation. The work continued with a consumer study (N=4612) where consumers’ perceptions of health claims formulated in different ways were explored in addition to their impact on choice behaviour.
Results from the consumer study were discussed in five national and one shared Nordic workshop with the aim to develop a shared view on the aspects that need to be taken into account when health claims are used in marketing. These workshops were attended by representatives from authorities, food industry, retail, consumer organisations, health-promoting organisations and scientists.
Based on the workshops Nordic recommendations for using health claims were generated in an iterative process.
The two main points that came out were:
- providing all citizens with adequate education and training in healthy eating so that consumers can understand whether the promised benefits are relevant to them, and
- promoting dialogue between actors in the field to ensure responsible use of claims and equal treatment of claims in the market
These recommendations are available for all interested parties at the ACCLAIM-project website and at the end of the final project report which can be downloaded for free here below.
Project presentation – Kick-off in June 2006 (pdf-file)
Project duration: August 2006 – August 2008
Project website: http://virtual.vtt.fi/virtual/acclaim/index.htm