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The role of health-related claims and symbols in consumer behaviour: the CLYMBOL project


1. European Food Information Council, rue Paul-Emile Janson 6, 1000-Brussels, Belgium
2. Nutrition Institute, Ljubljana, Slovenia
3. University of Oxford, United Kingdom
4. Wageningen University, Netherlands
5. Department of Agricultural Economics, Ghent University, Belgium
6. MAPP Centre for Research on Customer Relations in the Food Sector, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark


Health claims and symbols are a convenient tool when it comes to the marketing of foods and they should, in theory, support consumers in making informed food choices, ideally in choosing healthier food products. However, not much is known about their actual impact on consumer behaviour. CLYMBOL (“The Role of health-related CLaims and sYMBOLs in consumer behaviour”) is an EU-funded project aiming to study how health claims and symbols influence consumer understanding, purchase and consumption behaviour. During a 4-year period, a wide range of research studies have been conducted across Europe, in order to analyse European consumer behaviour in the context of health claims and symbols. Results of the studies will provide a basis for recommendations for stakeholders such as policy makers, the food industry and consumer and patient organisations.

The Regulation (EC) 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims went into effect in 2006.  It was designed to offer industry a guideline on how to use claims on food products, ensuring the effective functioning of the internal EU market, whilst protecting consumers and their right to non-misleading food information (1). However, the actual effect of health claims and symbols on European consumers’ understanding, purchase and consumption behaviour was largely unknown at that time. The European Commission decided to issue a call under the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development, asking researchers to contribute to a better understanding of consumer behaviour in relation to claims and symbols on food products.

CLYMBOL (“The Role of health-related CLaims and sYMBOLs in consumer behaviour”) was awarded the grant (Grant Agreement No 311963). The project began in 2012 and ends in August 2016. It consists of five research work areas that are using a wide range of empirical methods to study the effects of health claims and symbols on consumer behaviour. Among them are cross-sectional online surveys, qualitati ...

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