Focus project ConfPref1: Modeling belief formation and consumer preferences for functional food: An integration of evolutionary economic and microeconomic approaches


Not at least due to innovative research results in food sciences functional foods are becoming increasingly important in consumer’s diary. However, nowadays it is still problematic to predict ex ante the economic success and the induced welfare implications of specific functional foods. Accordingly, there is a need for adequate models of consumer behavior that in particular enable a forecast of consumer demand for innovative functional food products. Consumer demand for functional food is characterized by fundamental uncertainty, i.e. from the view point of an individual consumer it is often impossible to understand how consumption of specific functional food products is technically related with individual health or convenience.

In this context this projects derives an innovative consumer demand model integrating an agent-based model of consumer belief formation in social communication networks regarding perceived technical relations of functional food and a microeconomic two-stage household production function approach. The theoretical model will be applied empirically based on survey data collected within the KIK-panel (Kieler- Interventions-Kohorte).

In particular, the following research questions will be addressed: (1) What are relevant socio-economic and political determinants of consumer demand for functional food; (2) What kind of collective action problems might result from fundamental uncertainty regarding impacts of functional food on health and convenience; (3) What is the influence of specific communication network structures on consumers’ belief formation and demand for functional food; (4) To what extend can empirically estimated stated or revealed consumer preferences be replicated by our integrated theoretical approach.


Project Director:

Prof. Dr. Dr. Christian Henning
Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Kiel, Germany

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Link zur offiziellen Website: Focus

Work Packages

Work package 1:

Theoretical derivation and programming of integrated ABM-household production function approach

Work package 2:

Consumer Survey on Functional Food

Work package 3:

Simulation studies of consumer demand for functional food