Seaweed antioxidants as novel ingredients for better health and food quality (SEAHEALTH)

Consumer surveys about willingness-to-pay for functional foods

The EU-funded project "Seaweed antioxidants as novel ingredients for better health and food quality (SEAHEALTH)" aimed at developing foods with a special health benefit that contain anti-oxidative ingredients on the basis of seaweeds (brown algae). This kind of ingredients has a potential to prevent cancer and cardiovascular diseases. The project consortium included nine enterprises and research institutes from the EU, that developed and analysed all aspects from the harvesting and analysis of the algal extracts, toxicology and investigation in the health effects to the development of model foods.

Fraunhofer ISI together with the Institute for Economic Policy Research, Section System Dynamics and Innovation (IWW) at the University of Karlsruhe was charged with two work packages. First, the factors which influence the market and the consumer behaviour for such products were determined. These factors contribute to effective consumer communication strategies, which were developed and tested empirically in the second work package. The description of the potential market for foods with special health use containing anti-oxidative algal ingredients was based on statistics and market analyses as well as on interviews with experts in this field.

The attitudes of consumers towards such products were measured in three European countries and analysed in a conjoint design. First, in Germany and the UK focus groups were held. the results builded the basis for the development of the standardised questionnaires and other research instruments. After that, in Germany, the UK and Italy approx. 200 persons from the general population each were interviewed. This allowed to identify the most important factors that contribute to the consumers' preferences towards functional foods with algal ingredients. For the development of the communication strategies, the relevant literature concerning consumer information on foods and health was analysed. Building on this, a set of possible strategies was developed and tested in a workshop with consumers. The results were worked out using a written survey of the participants.

Duration: 01. Jan. 2003 – 31. Dec. 2005

Funding: European Union (FP5)

Work Package leader: Bernhard Bührlen at Fraunhofer ISI