Irish turn on to functional foods

Report shows Irish and Scandinavians to be avid consumers

Europe New research from market analyst HealthFocus has revealed Irish consumers to be some of the world's most eager functional-foods buyers.

"Irish shoppers show a great openness toward fortified foods as compared to other countries in Europe and the US," HealthFocus stated. "This openness crosses age groups and household make-up. Those on lower incomes are slightly more likely to believe that it's important to choose fortified foods but there is still a strong propensity in all income ranges."

The report noted Irish consumers place a high importance on heart health resulting in 30 per cent of shoppers increasing fibre intake in general, and 43 per cent increasing use of high-fibre foods to reduce risk of disease. Thirty-one per cent were increasing use of low-fat foods.

More than 40 per cent of shoppers always or usually chose foods for specific health benefits. Overall, an impressive 75 per cent of Irish consumers agree foods have active components that can improve current health and improve long-term health.

HealthFocus has also produced a report on the habits of Scandinavian consumers, which it notes are the world's most lifestyle oriented when it comes to their health concerns. Scandinavians are more likely to be concerned with stress and tiredness than physical health problems such as heart disease and cancer, perhaps reflecting the strong social welfare net.

"Nordic shoppers and Danes in particular are less motivated to take personal responsibility for their health through dietary choices," HealthFocus observed. "This reflects a strong trust in the welfare society and a trust in the healthfulness of the traditional diet."

Concern over typical health issues such as heart disease and cancer have dropped markedly in countries like Norway and Sweden. "Feeling good can be seen as a 'wellness driver' compared to 'daily health' and 'family health,' which are nutritional drivers," said HealthFocus Europe. "This means that the focus in the Nordic markets should be to remove barriers to wellness."

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