BACKGROUND : Maize is the major food staple in East and Southern Africa, where food-processing industries are emerging fast. New low-cost extrusion cookers allow small enterprises to enter the market for processed cereals, including instant, fortified, and flavored products.
OBJECTIVE : Assess consumers’ interest and preferences for the new products.
METHODS : Consumers (n = 220) in Eldoret, Kenya, were invited to evaluate 4 new cereal products: (1) sifted maize flour mixed with sorghum, (2) instant sifted mixed flour, (3) instant whole flour, and (4) instant whole flour fortified with natural ingredients and to compare them to conventional sifted maize flour, using 2 preparations: stiff porridge (ugali) and soft porridge (uji). These were followed by economic experiments to estimate consumers’ willingness to pay (WTP) for the new products and traits.
RESULTS : For ugali, consumers preferred conventional sifted maize flour, while for uji, they appreciated the new products, especially sifted mixed flour (with sorghum) and instant whole mixed flour. Fortification with food-to-food sources was not appreciated, especially for ugali. Comparing WTP for the traits with their production cost showed that mixed, whole, and instant flours were economical, but not fortification. Maize/sorghum mixtures realized a benefit of 24% over conventional maize flour, whole meal 11%, and instant mixtures 5%.
CONCLUSIONS : There is a potential market for improved cereal products in Kenya, but more for uji than for ugali, especially with instant, mixed, and whole flour. Acceptable and affordable products, fortified with other foods that are locally available, however, still need to be developed, especially for ugali.