Guinea fowl (Numida meliagris) value chain: preferences and constraints of consumers
Despite the increasing production of guinea fowls in most African countries, consumer preference information and constraints remain largely undocumented. A study involving 200 consumers and 50 processors was done in the Tamale metropolis to assess their respective roles in the guinea fowl value chain. Consumers were categorised into households and institutions. Household consumers were further partitioned into lower-, middle- and upper-income classes. Most (99%) of the consumers interviewed ranked guinea fowl meat as their most preferred poultry product, and taste was ranked as the top most reason for their choice. A large proportion of household and institutional consumers ate guinea fowl meat once monthly (42%) or weekly (33.5%). All categories of consumers preferred farmers as the source of birds for consumption. Live birds were the most preferred form of guinea fowl by both consumers and processors. Most (93.7%) consumers indicated that there are seasonal fluctuations in the price of guinea fowl leading to the use of products that are substitutes for guinea fowl. Price instability was ranked as the top constraint to guinea fowl consumption in the metropolis. Beef was the cheapest fresh guaranteed halal meat product on the market, and the prices of beef, mutton and chevon were the most stable, while that of the guinea fowl was the least stable. Institutional consumers used guinea fowls more frequently (p<0.05) as compared to household consumers. Similarly, upper- and middle-income households, as well as male heads of households used guinea fowls more frequently (p<0.05) as compared to low-income and female heads of households. Most (60%) processors processed birds either once weekly or monthly. The level of education of the heads of households had no effect (p>0.05) on the frequency of use of guinea fowl meat. There was also no difference between male and female heads of households in preference for guinea fowl packaging. Similarly, household consumers of all income classes chose all packaging of guinea fowl equally, while households and processors ranked friends as the top source of food safety information and institutional consumers ranked television as the number one source of food safety information. Guinea fowls have huge market potential, but the seasonal price fluctuations still remain a challenge. Additionally, the preference for live birds among institutional and household consumers seem to be related to uncertainty about conforming to halal standards in slaughter of birds by processors and poor meat handling and hygiene standards among processors in the metropolis.
Keywords: Consumption patterns, packaging, consumer preference, guinea fowl, Numida meleagris