Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore differences in consumers’ willingness to purchase functional foods (FFs) in southern Chile in terms of socio-demographic characteristics, consumer knowledge, and subjective well-being. Design/methodology/approach – A survey was carried out among 400 people in southern Chile. The questionnaire measured willingness to buy FFs with 18 different benefits, knowledge about FFs, socio-demographic characteristics and satisfaction with life and with food-related life. Findings – Two dimensions were found for benefits sought in FFs: disease prevention and improvement of bodily functions. Cluster analysis was used to distinguish three types of consumers. The majority (59.8 per cent) showed a significant disposition to buy FFs that prevent diseases or improve bodily functions. Others (25.8 per cent) were less inclined to buy either type of FF. A minority (14.5 per cent) showed greater disposition to buy FFs which improve bodily functions. The types differ according to the size of family, presence and age of children at home, ethnic origin, education, socio-economic status, knowledge about FFs and satisfaction with life and food-related life. Research limitations/implications – This study was conducted in the context of only one country in South America. The results reveal a high interest to buy FFs in order to improve bodily functions, and this preference may be associated to lifestyle changes in the population in Latin American countries. Originality/value – This study provides information on the willingness to buy FFs and relates it to ethnic origin and satisfaction with food-related life. People from ethnic minorities are less inclined to buy FFs. People who are more inclined to buy FFs are more satisfied with their life and their food-related life.
British Food Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 5, 2015
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