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The effect of perceived carrier-ingredient fit on purchase intention of functional food moderated by nutrition knowledge and health claim

Ji Lu (Faculty of Agriculture, Dalhousie University, Truro, Canada.)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 6 July 2015




The purpose of this paper is to examine how the purchase intention of functional food is influenced by the perception of carrier-ingredient fit, that is, to what extent the carrier product and functional ingredient are intuitively perceived to be matched, and how such influence is moderated by consumers’ prior nutrition knowledge and provided health claim.


Through two phases of experimental studies on 30 hypothetical functional foods, this paper analyzed the relationship between perceived carrier-ingredient fit and purchase intention which were reported by participants with different nutrition knowledge levels and in conditions that differed in the content of health claim.


Phase 1 (n=62) found that the positive influence of perceived fit on purchase intention of functional products was moderated by one’s prior nutrition knowledge; compared to those knowledgeable in food/nutrition fields, consumers with less knowledge relied more heavily on the perceived carrier-ingredient fit when making purchase decision. The results of study 2 Phase 2 (n=93) revealed that the perceived fit was more important to predict purchase intention in the condition without health claim. A further analysis revealed that health claim increased the purchase intention particularly for functional foods receiving poor perceived carrier-ingredient fit.

Practical implications

For innovative functional foods, the product development and market penetration may be benefit from fine-grained segmentation and positioning strategies that are based on the understanding of interaction between intuitive perception and cognitive knowledge.


The present work highlights consumers’ perception of the carrier-perception fit, interacting with nutrition knowledge and health claim, as a critical factor determining the acceptance of functional foods.



The author would like to acknowledge James Keddy for his contribution to data collection and analyses. This work is supported by the research funding from the Department of Business and Social Sciences, Faculty of Agriculture in Dalhousie University.


Lu, J. (2015), "The effect of perceived carrier-ingredient fit on purchase intention of functional food moderated by nutrition knowledge and health claim", British Food Journal, Vol. 117 No. 7, pp. 1872-1885.



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