Consumers’ knowledge about and attitudes towards lucerne (Medicago sativa L.)
Over the past few years, interest has grown about the health benefits of lucerne (alfalfa), however, little is known about consumers’ attitudes towards consuming this forage legume. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine consumer knowledge in different demographic groups and to investigate the role of health benefits, food safety risks, sensory qualities and synonyms on attitudes. Purposive sampling was employed, recruiting male and female respondents (n = 384) from Bloemfontein City, Free State Province. For the determination of attitude, hypotheses were represented via the conceptual model, as to depict health benefits, food safety risks, sensory qualities and synonyms as antecedents of consumers’ attitudes towards lucerne. Self-administered questionnaires were filled out, and it was examined for validity and reliability. While 63.1% of the respondents were knowledgeable on lucerne as a forage legume and animal feed source, 90.3% never consumed lucerne before. Older respondents with a grade 12 or higher education, were significantly (p<0.001) more knowledgeable about lucerne. The predictors, sensory qualities and synonyms, contributed significantly (p<0.001) to consumers’ attitudes towards lucerne. These predictors should be used for product development, sustainable production and increased consumption of lucerne. Awareness of lucerne’s nutritional potential for human consumption should be raised since it could contribute to food security for sustainable development in Africa.