R.T. Ras and E.A. Trautwein: Consumer purchase behaviour of foods with added phytosterols in six European countries: Data from a post-launch monitoring survey

Food and Chemical Toxicology (2017), doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2017.10.003

 

  • This most recent PLM survey confirms again that foods with added plant sterols and stanols were mainly purchased by the intended target population, i.e. 1-2 person households with a household head older than 35 years and without children under the age of 5 years.
  • Overall, plant sterol and stanol intakes are far below recommended intakes of 1.5-3.0 g/d leading to a LDL-cholesterol-lowering effect of 7 to 12.5% on average. Intakes exceeding the recommended plant sterol or stanol intakes are scarce, supporting that overconsumption is not really a concern.
  • Compared to PLM data from previous surveys, plant sterol and stanol intakes have declined overtime, despite an increased range of foods with added plant sterols and stanols that entered the market and the approval of health claims.

 

This recently published paper represents the latest post launch monitoring (PLM) survey on consumer purchase behaviour of foods with added plant sterols and stanols. It summaries findings from a 2015 PLM survey in six European countries, i.e. UK, Germany, France, Netherlands, Belgium and Greece, reporting purchase behaviour data for a period of one-year.

The aim of this survey was to assess by whom and to what extent foods with added plant sterols or stanols are being purchased. The survey included all food products, e.g. spreads, dairy foods (milk, yoghurt) and others on the market in 2015 in these countries.

Based on the number of purchases per year, the total amount of plant sterols and stanols purchased per household and the daily intake of plant sterols and stanols per household were calculated. Data from 80,825 households were included.

Penetration rates of households that purchased foods with added plant sterols or stanols ranged between 3% in Germany, 9% in France and the Netherlands, 12% in UK, 17% in Belgium and 34% in Greece. 34-61% of the households purchased infrequently (≤2 times/year), 29-36% occasionally (<monthly) and 11-33% regularly, i.e. at least once a month. Most PS (62-100%) were purchased in spread format.

The median plant sterol and stanol intakes for all purchasers ranged from 0.11 g/d in France and the Netherlands to 0.30 g/d in the UK.

Considering regular purchasers, median intakes ranged from 0.91 in the Netherlands to 1.44 g/d in Belgium. The 95th percentile of plant sterol and stanol intakes ranged from 2.41 to 3.39 g/d, exceeding 3 g/d only in 2.5% of households in the UK and Belgium.

The proportion of households that reported ‘optimal’ plant sterol and stanol intakes of 1.5-3.0 g/day ranged from 0% in Greece to 11.1% in the UK. Most households (i.e. ≥86%) had intakes below 1.5 g/d.