This study is aimed at investigating specific preferences for various types of maize meal in two rural communities of Mthatha. Consumption data shows that in very poor households, maize was the only and most consumed foodstuff. The acceptability and opinions of different maize meal types were investigated by this study, as well as awareness of technologies, food fortification and genetic modification. The first phase of the study employed a qualitative approach in which numerical data was collected using sensory evaluations and second phase being a qualitative approach in the form of focus group interviews. In determining consumer acceptability, sensory evaluations were done amongst villagers from Ngqeleni and Mqanduli of selected age groups and gender. The sensory evaluation findings of the study indicate that fortified (special) maize meal is preferred over all other maize meal types, based on a higher liking of the aroma and colour. This was followed by unfortified (special) maize meal, although it was not significantly different to sifted white maize meal, sifted yellow maize meal, white sifted non-genetically modified maize meal, white genetically modified maize meal, in descending order. Younger adults (18-25years) had a stronger preference for white fortified maize meal, with older adults (>40years) all maize meal types similarly with the exception of yellow sifted maize meal. Males and females revealed equal liking behaviour. The Ngqeleni villagers preferred white fortified maize meal. Mqanduli participants preferred sifted maize meal, probable due to the fact that this is the staple food produced in the village. Focus groups were used to capture understanding and/or opinions of food fortification and genetic modification. Ngqeleni and Mqanduli are two villages approximately 30km east of Mthatha and south east of Mthatha, respectively. Findings from the two villages differed. Somewhat the Mqanduli community was more subsistence farming based, therefore aware of farming practices and their technical benefits but not the facts behind the technology. In Ngqeleni, the community was more aware of the concepts even though they were not exposed to them. This deduced a low illiteracy rate in Mqanduli compared to Ngqeleni and it was confirmed during discussions and through a mini survey. Poverty was also evident in Mqanduli as most of the community was unemployed. This encouraged the community to use locally grown maize meal more than the commercial fortified maize meal. The issue of yellow and white maize brought good discussions, which led to conclusions that the choice of yellow maize depends on individual preferences. Most of the respondents in these communities consumed yellow maize in one state or another, with a few who did not prefer it at all as maize meal. Most men preferred yellow maize and yellow maize meal, as they believed that it had higher satiety level than white maize and white maize meal. In conclusion, the study revealed very interesting differences in preference of different maize meal types. This could form part of understanding the dynamics related to staple foods in a rural context.
Dissertation (MConsSci)--University of Pretoria, 2009.