Survey of the Consumer Habits of Dietary Supplements Users from the Perspective of Food Safety

Lehota, József – Németh, Nikolett – Gyenge, Balázs

Keywords: functional food, segmentation, quality, information, risks, Q13

The number of dietary supplements has been increasing rapidly in the last few years and in Hungary more than 15,000 registered dietary supplements can be found on the market at present. These products are different from the traditional food products and the risks associated with them may also differ from the traditional food risks. On the one hand, the typical food risks (e.g. physical, biological and chemical contaminations) still apply; on the other hand, dietary supplements can have significant nutritional risks since they contain special ingredients which may be dangerous if they are not consumed properly. Meanwhile, customers are given significant amounts of information about dietary supplements on the market, but this information can sometimes be misleading and may influence consumer habits.
The aim of our research therefore is to examine the consumption patterns of adult dietary supplements users, highlighting some of the determinants of food safety, such as quality, availability of information and risks. Within the framework of primary research, focus group interviews were conducted and a survey was also used. The results show that uses of dietary supplements are judged differently by the respondents. Consumers of dietary supplements are motivated by different reasons and they attach different degrees of importance to the roles of these products. Forty-two per cent of consumers use dietary supplements seasonally, while 18 per cent of them consume them daily. The main motivation in the consumption of these products is to supply vitamins. In data processing, factor- and cluster analysis were used to segment consumers based upon how they consider the use of dietary supplements. Four homogenous groups were identified among the respondents and we examined which consumer characteristics were applicable to each group, with particular emphasis on food-safety issues.