Communicating with consumers is a vital part of any business and efforts to reach out must start with the consumer themselves. Therefore, it is important to have a deep and clear understanding of consumers and their needs. Disseminating health benefits can be one successful way of communicating with consumers, and this can often times be done through health claims. Health claims in general are a statement between a food product and the health benefits it can potentially give consumers. However, claims on the health benefits of nuts and dried fruits should not and cannot be made unless they are based on scientific research and evidence.
A health claim is any statement about a relationship between food and health. For instance, in the EU, the European Commission authorizes different health claims provided they are based on scientific evidence and can be easily understood by consumers. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is responsible for evaluating the scientific evidence supporting health claims. In the US, authorized health claims in food labeling are claims that have been reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are allowed on food products or dietary supplements to show that a food or food component may reduce the risk of a disease or a health-related condition. Such claims are supported by scientific evidence and may be used on conventional foods and on dietary supplements to characterize a relationship between a substance (a specific food component or a specific food) and a disease or health-related condition (e.g., high blood pressure).
When beginning to communicate the health benefits of nuts and dried fruits to consumers, one must ensure that they are fully aware of the latest research and consult specialized databases for the most recent information. While there are many databases that provide research through open access, the INC has developed a database with over 2,900 scientific references. This section is constantly updated with studies that have been publish in scientific journals.
Through a joint effort between INC and Ogilvy, key areas of communication opportunities were identified in a consumer and market trends research. Among those areas identified were Digestive Health, Weight Management, Energy Boosting, Brain Health & Memory, and Plant-based Nutrition for Human Health and Environmental Sustainability.
In the following sections of this course, you will be presented the approach used to identify these key areas and have the chance to take a closer look at the areas and the markets in which they present an opportunity.
After pre-selecting the topics, the consumer interest was measured for each topic by analyzing the current and potential performance of food and beverage products that are positioned in these areas.
For this, the following data were used:
Then, the data were compared with findings from consumer trend reports to see if they were supportive of each other.
For the sake of practicality, the analysis was limited to the following principal markets for nut and dried fruit consumption.