1. Functional Foods, Consumer Attitudes and Personalized Nutrition

Szakály, Zoltán – Kiss, Marietta – Jasák, Helga

The dramatic spread of the so called diseases of civilization have occurred in the last decade worldwide. Deaths caused by them have long been of the highest rate among all causes of deaths. In parallel with the spread of the diseases of civilization, population of developed countries is increasingly ageing that increases the number of inactives and those who rely on health treatment. The outlined factors pose new challenges to the food industry: it requires the development new foods that slow down the spread of the diseases of civilization that hit the humankind through their health care effect, and at the same time provide longer life in health for the ageing societies. In the decade after decoding the human genome an extremely rapid development occurred in the techniques of genomics, and in the disciplines applying genomics methods. Researches in genomics focus on how the human genome interacts with the environmental factors for determining the gene expression. Nutrition as one of the most important environmental factors has an obvious impact on the health but we have not known yet exactly what this impact is and what its mechanism is. The so called nutrigenomics – that is a new discipline – aims to reveal the relationships that are not yet known. The personalized nutrition is a conception that adapts the diet, the foods, and the nutrients to the unique needs of the specific person.
The authors examined the relationships between the functional foods, consumer attitudes and personalized nutrition in the framework of a nation-wide representative consumer survey of 500 people. According to the results majority of the consumers (73.8%) believes that her/him nutrition (diet) follows a normal structure and all that she/he needs enters her/his body automatically. Knowing the critical health state of the population it can be stated that the high agreement portion is based on misbelieves. This is also indicated by the fact that 57.4% of consumers only eats foods that tastes good, even when it is supposedly less healthy. In the next half year almost 50% of the Hungarian population do not intend to switch to a nutrition considered healthier by themselves. Further 22% of the respondents already feel some urge to change their behavior, they compare the costs and the potential benefits of change. Only 5.0% of the interviewees switched to a nutrition considered healthier by themselves in the last six months, and the rate of those who maintain the positive change is 17.4%.
In the current situation there is no other option than raising awareness of the population for foods that provide excess nutrition benefits. These are the functional foods that hold important position in the education to healthy nutrition of the population. However, it is does matter in which strategy they are used by the enterprises. This applies for the development of both new technologies and new functional foods where involvement of consumers is inevitable today.
The so called perception screening theory answers the solution of the anomalies between the scientific objectivity and the consumer perception. We tried to apply the perception screening theory in a new discipline, entirely unknown to the consumers. The nutrition genomics and its major application area, the personalized nutrition are novel concepts to the population to such an extent that preferences and attitudes related to them have not occurred yet. This is why it could be interesting which most important psychological processes are the ones that can lead to the adoption of the new technology, and the development of the positive consumer attitudes. According to the results Hungarian consumers are mistrustful against the new technology and they are uncertain – despite its obvious advantages. The not so positive attitude is likely caused by more factors together. Traditional thinking, reluctance to the new play a role in it as well as the lack of information and misbelieves related to the genetic tests. The technology is novel to the consumers to such an extent that we found significant differences between the consumer segments only in some cases, i.e. consumer preferences cannot be classified, they are highly scattered. Finally, the authors developed an optimized practical model by which the successful launch of a new functional food and its hindering factors can be securely forecasted.

DOI: 10.20494/TM/1/1-2/1

The Hungarian Journal of Nutrition Marketing. 2014. 1 (1-2) 3-17.

01_Szakály Z. – Kiss M. – Jasák H._Funkcionális élelmiszerek, fogyasztói attitűdök és személyre szabott táplálkozás