Consumers' perceptions of functional foods: trust and food-neophobia in a cross-cultural context.

Irina Dolgopolova*, Ramona Teuber, Viola Bruschi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Consumers' perceptions of functional foods are complicated by perceived risks and complexity that appear from growing and sometimes confusing information flow. Social trust can serve as a mean for the reduction of risk and complexity. It is thus vital to understand the sources of distrust and food-neophobia as well as coping mechanisms used by consumers to ensure food provision and safety. We discuss the results of a qualitative inquiry in the form of focus groups into consumers' perceptions of functional foods in Russia and Germany. Altogether eight focus group interviews were carried out in different parts of Russia and Germany in December-January 2012-2013. A total of 59 people participated in the discussions. Different perspectives provided by the discussions in the two countries indicate different levels of trust. Deeper culturally embedded and wider-spread distrust in formal institutions in Russia pushes consumers towards developing informal networks to ensure food provision and safety. It leads to high levels of food-neophobia as consumers perceive traditions as the most important guarantee for healthy food. On the other hand, German participants indicate a number of formal institutions that are trustworthy and through which information concerning novel and healthy attributes in foods can be communicated. We provide exploratory views on the importance of social trust in consumers' perceptions of functional foods and lay out mechanisms that consumers develop to deal with increasing risk and complexity in food choices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)708-715
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Consumer Studies
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Food safety
  • Consumer behavior
  • Functional foods
  • Neophobia
  • Cross-cultural studies
  • Trust
  • food‐neophobia
  • food-neophobia
  • functional food
  • Germany
  • Russia

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