Perceptions of the use of indigenous leaves as packaging materials in the ready-to-eat cornmeals
Although alternative food packaging materials are available, Ghanaians still use leaves to package some ready-to-eat cornmeal products. This study examines the perceptions of a representative community sample of 70 producers, 40 sellers and 120 consumers of ready-to-eat leaves-packaged cornmeal products in Kumasi using questionnaires. Fante Kenkey (packaged in dried leaves of either musa paradisiaca or sterculia tragacanta) and Ga kenkey (packaged in dried sheaths of zea mays) are the most preferred products, accounting together for 80% of all leaves-packaged cornmeals processed by producers, for 76% of products offered by sellers and for 96% of products purchased by consumers. Reasons producers cited for the continued utilization of leaves as packaging materials include medicinal via the infusion of the cornmeal with beneficial phytonutrients that also imparts distinctive aroma and taste (61%), environmental friendliness (17%), availability (4%), relatively low cost (4%), lack of toxicity and renewability (14%). Despite consumers concerns of unhygienic (7%), short shelf lives (18%) and loss of moisture leading to hardening of Ga Kenkey (60%), 87% of consumers declined a suggestion for use of alternative packaging materials for ready-to-eat cornmeals. Data provided by this study can be used to examine food packaging trends for research and policy analyses in Ghana.
Keywords: Kenkey, musa paradisiaca, sterculia tragacanta, zea mays, phytochemical, leaf-package