Consumer acceptance of yellow, provitamin A-biofortified maize in KwaZulu-Natal
Objectives: To assess the acceptance of popular maize food products (phutu, thin porridge and samp), prepared with yellow, provitamin A-biofortified maize varieties, in 212 subjects between the ages of three and 55 years, from rural KwaZulu-Natal.
Design: A cross-sectional study.
Method: Preschool, primary school and secondary school subjects were randomly selected from two primary schools and one secondary school, respectively, while adult subjects constituted a convenience sample. Pre- and primary school children completed a paired preference test. Secondary school and adult subjects completed a five-point facial hedonic and a preference ranking test. Focus group discussions were conducted using adult subjects.
Results: Preschool children preferred yellow maize to white maize food products: phutu (81% vs. 19%; p-value < 0.001), thin porridge (75% vs. 25%; p-value < 0.001) and samp (73% vs. 27%; p-value < 0.001). There was no statistically significant difference in preference for white and yellow maize by primary school children. Secondary school and adult subjects preferred white maize to yellow maize. Focus group discussions confirmed the preference for white maize by the adults.
Conclusion: The study findings suggest that yellow, provitamin A-biofortified maize has the potential to succeed as a new strategy of dealing with the serious problem of vitamin A deficiency, especially among children of preschool age. However, in older groups, this strategy is unlikely to be successful, unless other strategies are implemented, including intensive nutrition education programmes on the nutritional benefits of the maize, targeting the market price at which yellow maize is sold, increasing its availability in local grocery stores, and improving its sensory properties through breeding.
Keywords: yellow maize, provitamin A, vitamin A deficiency, consumer acceptance