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Mode of delivery of probiotics
Consumers’ preference and its determinants


*Corresponding author
1. Ghent University, Department of Agricultural Economics, Coupure links 653, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium
2. Ghent University, Department of Food Safety and Food Quality, Coupure links 653, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium


Previous research has revealed that mode of delivery is the most important attribute for consumers in selecting a probiotic product. Therefore, determining the predictors of consumers’ preferred mode of delivery of probiotics is of particular importance for public health policy makers, marketers and developers of probiotic products. Functional foods, food supplements, and pharmaceuticals are the considered modes of delivery in this study. To assess the most important determinants, a survey was performed in Belgium with adult volunteers (n = 503) of whom 18 percent were Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) patients. The results indicate that functional foods are the most preferred mode of delivery of probiotics. Furthermore, significant odds ratios were obtained for digestive health, knowledge of probiotics, familiarity with functional foods and familiarity with food supplements.


The World Health Organization (WHO) (2002) has defined probiotics as: “live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host” (1). Probiotics can be functional on four domains: metabolism, chronic intestinal inflammatory (e.g. IBD, Inflammatory Bowel Disease) and functional disorders, infections and allergies (2). Currently, probiotics are mainly used for gastro-intestinal applications (3).
Research is conducted towards better understanding of the mode of action and towards new probiotic strains (4). Probiotics are available in three modes of delivery, namely functional foods, food supplements and pharmaceuticals (3, 5, 6). Dairy products are the main type of food in which probiotics are used, which is partly explained by dairy products’ general positive image and the longstanding tradition of product development and innovation in the dairy sector (7, 8). The primary role of the image of the carrier product in shaping consumer response to functional foods or foods with health claims has been stressed (9), and it has recently been stated that the base product is the most important at ...