Consumer awareness and acceptability of bambara groundnut as a protein source for use in complementary foods in rural KwaZulu-Natal
Objectives: To determine the consumer awareness and acceptability of bambara groundnut as a protein source and to assess its potential for use in complementary feeding.
Design: Cross-sectional study using a mixed-methods approach.
Setting: The study took place at Gcumisa Clinic located at Swayimane, uMshwathi Municipality, in the UMgungundlovu District, KwaZulu-Natal province.
Subjects: Black African female outpatients attending the Gcumisa paediatric clinic participated in the consumer-awareness survey (n = 70), consumer-acceptability tests (n = 64) and focus-group discussion (n = 16).
Outcome measures: Consumer awareness of bambara groundnut and consumer acceptability of pureed samples made from bambara groundnut and common dry bean (reference) were assessed using questionnaires. A focus-group discussion was also held with some of the consumer acceptability test participants.
Results: The survey participants were not familiar with bambara groundnut and its preparation methods. The sensory attributes, including overall acceptability, of the brown bambara groundnut puree compared well with that of the reference. Grain colour significantly influenced overall acceptability of the bambara groundnut puree (p < 0.05). Fifty caregivers (71%) expressed willingness to use the bambara groundnut in complementary feeding if it was accessible, affordable, and beneficial to health.
Conclusion: Bambara groundnut is not a familiar legume in KwaZulu-Natal and utilisation is seemingly limited due to poor market availability and knowledge of cooking methods. However, there is potential for its use as a protein source in complementary foods. An improvement in the market availability and nutrition education to highlight the nutritional benefits of bambara groundnut are required to increase utilisation.
Keywords: bambara groundnut, complementary foods, consumer awareness