Food or drugs? What drives consumers’ perception of borderline products? – Presented by Stefanie Bröring, University of Bonn

Food or drugs? What drives consumers’ perception of borderline products? – Presented by Stefanie Bröring, University of Bonn, at the  Healthy Nutrition Conference, 27 June 2018, Brightlands Campus, Venlo, The Netherlands.

Increasing interest of food and pharmaceutical companies as well as consumers in health and well-being has resulted in the emergence of “borderline products” like functional food and supplements, which demonstrate properties of both food and drugs to a certain extent. Understanding consumers’ perception of borderline products is relevant for companies and policymakers to valorise their research efforts and achieve consumer protection respectively. This motivates exploration of the research question what drives consumers’ perception of borderline products?

Insights from two consumer studies suggest that presentation factors could be more influential than functionality factors. Appearance of the product (as food or drug) seems to be the main driving factor behind consumers’ perception of borderline products as food or drugs. Along with appearance, positioning in the distribution channel (e.g. near conventional food), dosage (e.g. similar to medicine) and the perceived functionality (i.e. beneficial effects) may also influence consumers’ perception of borderline products. These findings could be interesting for companies to differentiate their products through innovative product packaging and positioning strategies by collaborating with retailers. Policymakers may consider important influential factors from consumer perspective to deal with ambiguous categorisation of borderline products.

About Stefanie Bröring
Stefanie Bröring is full professor for “Technology and innovation management in Agribusiness” at the University of Bonn in Germany. Earlier she was professor for Food Chain Management at the University of Applied Sciences in Osnabrück. She is also a research fellow at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. Prior to academia she worked in the agri-food industry and gained a wide array of consulting and industry experience working mainly in new business development-related functions as well as marketing. After her studies in Lübeck, Münster and Rotterdam she obtained her PhD on “Innovation management of functional foods” from the University of Münster in Germany, which included a research stay at the University of Quebec at Montreal and the Institute of Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods in Quebec City, Canada. Her research focuses on the challenges of technology and innovation management across agri-food chains and networks, industry convergence between foods and drugs as well as the impact of health claims on innovation and technology acceptance in the food domain (see

About University of Bonn – Technology and Innovation Management in Agribusiness
The newly established chair group of Technology and Innovation Management in Agribusiness, headed by Prof. Dr. Stefanie Bröring, focuses on current management issues of food and agribusiness. Our central research interest is technology and innovation management (TIM) in agri-food chains and networks. We strive to understand how emerging technologies and innovations (like eg. bio-, nanotech, nutrigenomics or advances in food processing resulting in value-added food ingredients) are adopted by the market, shape existing value chains and may mitigate current challenges on the way to a knowledge-based bioeconomy.

We aim at closely linking theoretical and practical questions in research and education. Our research projects are based on a wide array of quantitative as well as qualitative methods to analyze management questions in the diverse applications fields of food and agribusiness and related sectors (bioeconomy).

About Agrifood Innovation Event
The Agrifood Innovation Event is a dedicated and focused business and research platform, unique in bringing together European and global companies from the entire food industry chain: supply chain with customers, producers, retailers and researchers.

The Agrifood Innovation Event is a two-day Event (June 27-28, 2018) that includes 4 dedicated conferences and an expo.

Day 1: June 27, 2018 Day 2: June 28, 2018
Healthy Nutrition Conference Vertical Farming Conference 3D Food Printing Conference Smart Farming Conference
  • Smart & Healthy Ingredients
  • Sustainable Food Manufacturing
  • Protein Transition (e.g. insects and seaweed)
  • Food design
  • Innovative technologies for Healthy Nutrition
  • Available technologies – LED lighting, sensors, AI
  • From traditional farmer to vertical farmer
  • Robotics
  • Improved resource-use efficiency
  • Sustainable Buildings (design, green roof, energy)
  • Technologies for 3D Food Printing
  • Ingredients for 3D Food Printing
  • Patent issues
  • Legal issues
  • Regulatory issues
  • Investment opportunities
  • Research and development
  • Available technologies for Farming 4.0 – drones, sensors, Internet of Things, Robotics, etc
  • Precision agriculture
  • Precision Livestock Farming
  • Plant and crop science for improved resource-use
  • Investment in R&D
  • Cross disciplinary themes
Networking dinner

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