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Functional foods in Turkey: marketing, consumer awareness and regulatory aspects

Ilkay Gok (Department of Gastronomy, Istanbul Okan University, Istanbul, Turkey)
Efe Kaan Ulu (Department of Gastronomy, Bahcesehir University, Istanbul, Turkey)

Nutrition & Food Science

ISSN: 0034-6659

Article publication date: 20 December 2018

Issue publication date: 12 August 2019




After the introduction of functional food term in 1980s, production and marketing of functional food in Japan, USA and European markets has developed rapidly. Compared to these developed countries, the market size of the functional food in Turkey is very limited. The purpose of this study is to explore reasons of limited development and marketing strategies regarding the size of expenditure, governmental legislation and consumer preferences and highlight the type of functional food products available at large retail chains of important suppliers in Turkey.


Description and exploration of market size and expenditure were determined by using Euromonitor International (2017). The factors influencing consumption and attitudes toward functional food purchasing were evaluated by studying literature research. The number and types of functional foods in the most important supermarket chains were determined to show the growth rate in Turkey. Products in the markets were determined based on the direct observation available, and functional foods sold in the markets were noted at the visits and tabulated. The type of functional food product, its category, the main benefit offer to the consumer and the brand and status of the food processing industry (national or not) were identified. Government legislation on special health claims for functional foods was stated.


Market size of Turkey per capita expenditure was approximately US$5.8m, which was very low, whereas that of Japan and USA was US$86.7m and 100.2m, respectively, in 2017. The variety of functional food products was at a very low level, and functional food market share was limited compared to powerful countries like Turkey. International companies had a higher market share than national companies. Danone with dairy functional foods was the biggest company in Turkey market. Literature studies showed that Turkish people have less knowledge about functional foods and need education. According to reviews, socio-demographic characteristics such as age, education, income levels, gender and prices were important indicators influence consumer awareness and consumption of functional foods. Consumer’s knowledge must be increased with their health benefits by education. Reviews showed that nearly 60 per cent of people did not have any information about functional food and women were more aware and the most active user group. Dairy products were the most preferred functional foods in Turkey. Because of limited awareness, there is a need for elucidating studies that are targeting potential consumers. Turkey did not have labeling system to claim foods functionality on packages and did not permit foods that contribute to health maintenance and/or recovery from disease, but Republic of Turkey Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock applies some laws and regulations.


This study provides market study and detailed research about marketing strategies and legislation of functional foods in Turkey. People have high demand to consume and there are big potentials of functional food marketing and opportunities for food industries. But to increase consumption and marketing size, it needs education of consumer, advertising and some adjustment of legislation by government.



Gok, I. and Ulu, E.K. (2019), "Functional foods in Turkey: marketing, consumer awareness and regulatory aspects", Nutrition & Food Science, Vol. 49 No. 4, pp. 668-686.



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