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Chinese Parents’ Attitudes and Purchase Intention of Functional Foods for Children

Presented by: DR. MINNA ROLLINS, University of West Georgia, DR. AGNIESZKA CHWIALKOWSKA University of West Georgia

The consumer acceptance of functional foods varies across countries (Annunziata et al. 2016, Bech-Larsen & Grunert 2003). Traditionally in China, food is considered a medicine (Siegrist et al. 2015), and recent government initiatives focus on promoting healthy diet and lifestyle (Mirosa & Mangan Walker 2018; WHO 2018). There is an interest in the functional foods (Siegrist et al. 2015; Mirosa & Mangan-Walker, 2018) with the sales of fortified foods on this market being on the rise (Euromonitor 2018). Considering these trends, coupled with China’s collectivistic culture, China offers an interesting and unique context for studying family decision-making related to functional foods. Therefore, this study investigates factors influencing Chinese parents' attitudes towards and intentions for buying functional foods for children. As Chinese families are often multi-generational, this study also explored the grandparents' influence on parents' decisions, answering the call for more research in extended family decision-making (Lien et al. 2018). Although the first foods for specified health uses were developed in Japan already thirty years ago (Menrad 2003), the definition of "functional food" is not yet universally accepted (Kaur & Singh 2017). In this study, we use the definition from Diplock et al. (1999): "A food can be regarded as "functional" if it is satisfactorily demonstrated to affect beneficially one or more target functions in the body, beyond adequate nutritional effects, in a way that is relevant to either an improved state of health and well- being and/or reduction of risk of disease." The examples of functional foods are Xylitol gum and probiotic yogurts.

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    Monica Gerhardt

    Please provide feedback on Chinese Parents’ Attitudes and Purchase Intention of Functional Foods for Children

    Stacey Finkelstein

    Interesting paper – I wonder about the potentially negative downstream consequences of making these inferences. Oftentimes these functional claims are added to foods that are high in sugars (yogurts, cereals, electrolyte and energy drinks). Absent regulation around what can be claimed in labeling or marketing materials, perhaps there are some other factors you’ve identified that balance energy-balance concerns with consumers seeking functional benefits from their food.

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