'Taste' gets people hooked to healthy food messages

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Washington, July 5 : Taste is a significant factor that gets consumers hooked on food-health and food-safety messages, say experts.

This fact was acknowledged by science, education, and marketing specialists who recently gathered to discuss how consumers influence and receive food-health and food-safety messages at Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting and Food Expo in New Orleans.

"Taste is what it's all about. The more health-related information and claims that manufacturers present, the more taste assurance the consumer needs," said Dr. Nancy Childs, professor of marketing at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia.

While new ingredients and health claims could drive consumers to try a product, she said, good taste would bring back business.

According to the experts, consumers respond to positive information, and want to hear about health and wellness rather than disease or deficiencies.

Consumers go for price value as well as a product that will fit into their lives, and extend their life experience rather than cause them to "jump" into a brand-new way of seeing or tasting foods.

The experts said that flavour variety was key, for flavour incarnations had kept consumers' attention for decades.

As to what prevented consumers from adopting healthful behaviours, despite being informed and educated about issues like food safety and weight reduction, Dr. Christine Bruhn of the University of California said: "People consider themselves knowledgeable already."

She added: "They've been doing these things just fine for all these years. They think they're invincible. Other people get ill, not me. Still they don't know recommended temperatures (for meats), how to store leftovers, and very few use a meat thermometer. We have to train them on the details."

Childs said that speaking to consumers directly and personally, especially through the Internet if the audience is younger than 35 years old, was crucial.

"Brands can create communities around which people can solve problems," said Childs.

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