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Perception Does Not Equal Reality When It Comes to Knowledge About Nutrient Intake: 2013 IFIC Functional Foods Survey Reveals Nutrient Shortfalls Among Americans
Date:10/2/2013

f these components to meet their needs or to get a health benefit.

It’s clear that Americans have an interest in functional foods. Similar to survey findings from 2009 and 2011, 90 percent of consumers in 2013 agree that certain foods have health benefits beyond basic nutrition (87 percent in 2011, and 89 percent in 2009).

“While there is some disparity between perceived nutrient adequacy and actual nutrient intake, it is notable that consumers recognize the benefits their food can offer,” says Sarah Romotsky, RD, Associate Director of Health and Wellness at the International Food Information Council Foundation. “Indeed, health-promoting foods and food components play an important role in meeting nutrient needs and improving overall health.”

Consumer interest in learning more about functional foods remains high. Almost 9 in 10 Americans (86 percent) are interested in learning more about foods that have health benefits beyond basic nutrition. Similar to 2011, almost half of all consumers (45 percent) are “very interested.”

Previous iterations of the survey revealed that even though consumers have a positive perception of functional foods, reported consumption of various functional components for health benefits remained stagnant. This year’s study further explored perceived barriers to functional foods. Respondents were offered a list of 16 potential reasons for not consuming more of these foods; on average, they selected 10 of those barriers, indicating that they perceive a variety of challenges. Specifically, price is the most common barrier, with more than half identifying it as a major reason. Other perceived barriers include skepticism of manufacturers’ motives for adding health components to products, preference for the purity of basic foods, and taste.

The 2013 Functional Foods Consumer Survey was fielded by Mathew Greenwald & Associates of Washington, D.C., between July 9 and July 22, 2013, and sampled 1,005 betw
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