To help consumers make healthy choices, we need to understand human behaviour. We need to know, for example, how labels on food are understood, how images on food packaging influence our perceptions, or how our beliefs about diet, nutrition and health shape our consumption behaviour. We need to test what factors influence food choice and purchase, how we can improve healthy shopping baskets and what makes consumers eat the food they eat. This is why EUFIC carries out consumer research. There is a wide range of methods that we use, both qualitative (i.e. when you study a smaller group of people to better understand thought processes) and quantitative (i.e. when you analyse a larger group of people to see if patterns emerge and which consumer segments are similar or dissimilar in their behaviour). We survey consumers, we interview them, we observe or discuss in focus groups and we analyse data sets to answer the many questions we have.
“Working with EUFIC has been a great opportunity to carry out pan-European research – studying people from different countries, comparing their answers and mapping consumer behaviour in the food, health and wellness sector has contributed to shaping our understanding of consumers in Europe," says Professor Klaus G. Grunert, Aarhus University, Denmark.
Food processing are the methods and techniques that turn fresh foods into food products. A range of operations are used, including washing, chopping, pasteurising, freezing, packaging and the addition of ingredients, which may change the nutritional characteristics of a food.
There is growing demand by the public to be informed about the various impacts of food consumption, including effects on the environment, animal welfare and working conditions in developing countries. Information about these issues sometimes appears in the form of labels.
In a climate of obesity, the amount consumers eat is just as important as what is eaten. Nutrition information on food labels is a major way to encourage consumers to make healthier choices.
In order to help consumers make healthier choices, nutrition information, normally found on the back of food packages, has begun to appear on the front of food packages.
EUFIC’s mission is to provide science-based information on food to the media, health and nutrition professionals, educators, opinion leaders and consumers.
In 2003, EUFIC desk research revealed that a certain amount of consumer research is already available concerning consumer understanding of the nutrition label content and format.
The field of risk communication is going through a period of change. Evolving from misconceptions involving nuclear power plant crises, the area is now closely intertwined with food.