The PlantLIBRA consumer survey: Findings on the use of plant food supplements in Italy

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BACKGROUND: Food supplements, and in particular those containing botanicals (plant food supplements, PFS), have in recent decades been of great interest both to consumers and to food/pharmaceutical industries. OBJECTIVES: The aim of this paper is to examine replies by Italian consumers to the PlantLIBRA consumers' survey in order to: 1) assess the behaviour of an Italian population with respect to the use of PFS, and to compare it with that of other 5 countries involved in the whole survey; 2) identify different habits in the 4 Italian cities selected according to their geographical distribution; 3) collect independent information on the actual intake of PFS and consumers' behaviour. SUBJECTS/SETTING: 397 Italian consumers enrolled, 187 males (49.5%) and 191 female (50.5%). The distribution of subjects among the 4 cities included was: Milan 99; Venice 90; Rome 96 and Catania 96. RESULTS: The interest in PFS in Italy is high, the prevalence of "regular" consumers being 22.7%. Some differences were observed between the 4 cities involved: the pattern of use during the year was specific to each city; consumers in Milan reported reasons to use PFS significantly different from those in the whole Italian sample and did not indicate supermarkets as an important place of purchase; respondents from Rome and Catania more frequently used family doctors and pharmacists as a source of recommendation. Some significant difference among cities, sex and age groups were observed when the most frequently used botanicals were ranked. CONCLUSIONS: The results provide new insights on the socio-economic characteristics and lifestyle of Italian PFS consumers, on their reasons for and pattern of use, and on their behaviour and expectations. The value of this information is not restricted to the specific country (Italy) but allows for a more general evaluation of the pattern of use, according to habits and geographical area.




Restani, P., Lorenzo, C. D., Garcia-Alvarez, A., Frigerio, G., Colombo, F., Maggi, F. M., … Serra-Majem, L. (2018). The PlantLIBRA consumer survey: Findings on the use of plant food supplements in Italy. PLoS ONE, 13(1).

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