Malnutrition remains a persistent and increasing problem in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Food production has not kept pace with population growth, and many people have poor access to adequate, nutritious diet. In many areas of the developing world, maize is a vital staple and a main source of dietary protein. In Eastern and Southern Africa, maize is the basic food for the subsistence farmers. Per capita consumption of maize in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe is 100 kg per year, while in Tanzania, per capita consumption is estimated at 73 kg per year. Unfortunately, the nutritional value of conventional maize is poor, partly due to the low biological value of its protein. To ensure sufficient protein intake, conventional maize should therefore be consumed with complementary protein sources, such as legumes or animal proteins. The complementary proteins sources however, tend to be expensive, or take a lot of time and fuel to cook, for instance beans. The main aim of this study was to evaluate the sensory characteristics and consumer acceptance of quality protein maize (QPM) in rural Tanzania. QPM is a maize cultivar which has almost double the amount of tryptophan and lysine. QPM has been adopted in several countries of SSA, but very few studies have been undertaken on its acceptance by consumers. In Tanzania, no study has been undertaken to elicit consumers‟ acceptability for this maize variety. The sensory characteristics of food products affect consumers‟ immediate consumption gratification. This study makes a unique contribution to the literature by exploring the roles that sensory evaluation and nutritional information play in shaping consumers‟ QPM flour purchasing behaviour through economic experiments in rural Tanzania. A triangle test was undertaken to find out whether there is a difference between QPM and conventional maize. Additionally, a rural household survey was undertaken which collected consumers‟ demographic, farming and individual characteristics. This was done using structured questionnaires administered by trained enumerators. Moreover, modified home use sensory testing and central location sensory testing were also undertaken to determine sensory characteristics of QPM and conventional maize. Stiff porridge, a major maize product in East and South Africa, was used to undertake this experiment. Finally, acceptability of QPM was tested using experimental auctions with the Becker-DeGroot-Marschak (BDM) procedure, and maize flour was used to undertake this experiment. The sensory evaluation findings of the study indicated that consumer characteristics of QPM stiff porridge were highly appreciated than those of conventional maize stiff porridge. This was observed both in the modified home use testing and central location testing. Likewise, consumers were willing to pay more for QPM than for conventional maize in all evaluation criteria used. Triangle test showed a significant difference between QPM and conventional maize. Sensory evaluation however needs to be repeated with other QPM varieties to ensure that it is not only a specific QPM variety that has favourable consumer characteristics. This study further revealed that providing QPM nutritional information to consumers increases their willingness to pay for QPM. Subjects who were provided with QPM nutritional information had higher WTP for QPM than those who were not. This shows that creating awareness of the nutritional contents, especially of the new varieties, would increase the appreciation by consumers hence help in fighting malnutrition in SSA. Providing QPM nutritional information, on the other hand, decreased consumers‟ WTP for conventional maize. This was unexpected because the information provided only concerned QPM. The study recommends that another study be carried out to find out the cause of decrease in WTP for conventional maize when QPM nutritional information is provided. This study clearly reveals that QPM is acceptable by rural consumers in Tanzania. This information can help policy makers in Africa to better understand consumers' food behaviour and make initiatives to improve diet and health, which can be important in reducing malnutrition in Sub Saharan Africa.
Dissertation (MSc(Agric))--University of Pretoria, 2011.