Swedish consumers' cognitive approaches to nutrition claims and health claims

Food Nutr Res. 2011 Mar 23:55. doi: 10.3402/fnr.v55i0.5929.


Introduction and aim: Studies show frequent use of nutrition claims and health claims in consumers' choice of food products. The aim of the present study was to investigate how consumers' thoughts about these claims and food products are affected by various types of food-related experiences.

Material and methods: The data collection comprised 30 individual interviews among Swedish consumers aged 25 to 64 years.

Results: The results indicated that participants who expressed special concern for their own and their families' health were eager to find out the meaning of concepts and statements made. A lack of understanding and lack of credibility of concepts and expressions often caused suspicion of the product. However, in some cases this was counterbalanced by confidence in manufacturers, retailers, and/or the Swedish food legislation.

Discussion and conclusion: To achieve effective written communication of food products' health-conducive properties on food labels, there is a need to consider the importance many consumers attach to understanding the meaning of concepts and expressions used and the importance of credibility in certain expressions. Consumers' varying cognitive approaches are suggested as a basis for pre-tests of nutrition claims and health claims.

Keywords: Sweden; cognitive segmentation; food labels; health claims; nutrition claims; qualitative research interviews.