A number of strategies have been proposed to reduce nutritional deficiencies in developing countries. In this paper, we investigated the extent to which consumers in Mozambique would be willing to consume new varieties of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (OFSPs).
Conclusions and implications
This study measured consumer preferences for new OFSPs, which possess nutritional benefits, relative to the traditionally consumed white varieties in Mozambique. Data from a CE were used to estimate conditional logit models, which provided estimates of consumers’ attribute-based utility functions in eight treatments representing scenarios in rural and urban areas, with and without information on the nutritional value of sweet potatoes, and visual/incentivised and hypothetical framework. The model estimates were used to estimate WTP and market shares for the orange and white varieties.
We found that consumers valued orange-fleshed pulp more than the white-fleshed pulp. These results are consistent with those found in sensory studies conducted by Tomlins et al. (2007) and Andrade and Ricardo (1999) and suggest that CE can be effectively used to determine consumers’ perceptions. Among the attributes considered in study, dry matter content was the most valued in all eight treatments considered.
In general, marginal WTP values for high versus low dry matter content in rural area were similar to the marginal WTP in urban area, indicating a relative stability of the value of this attribute in both rural and urban areas. Indeed, marginal WTP for high dry matter content was almost twice the marginal WTP for pulp colour even with information. The results suggest that dry matter content of the orange-fleshed varieties requires improvement if greater consumption of the orange varieties is to ensue.
Thus, from a policy standpoint in Mozambique, it is important for crop breeders to keep improve dry matter content and root size when introducing new varieties of OFSPs. Results suggest that information on health benefits can, in some circumstances,improve consumption of the nutritionally enhanced crop. Somewhat surprisingly, information tended to dampen demand for orange-fleshed varieties in rural areas. Our analysis indicates that differences in education are not the primary factors explaining differences in response to information in urban and rural areas, and we speculate that differences in trust in information and information providers might explain some of the differential informational impacts. However, it should be noted that it was only in the incentivised treatment that rural consumers exhibited a counter-intuitive response to information. Perhaps, this treatment imposed too many cognitive burdens on respondents for rational responses to be obtained. Overall, results suggest that OFSPs can garner a majority market share if they possess similar eating quality relative to the more traditional varieties. The magnitude of the potential benefits to consumers suggests the need to consider plant-breeding programmes to enhance the nutritional value of staple crops in other developing countries to improve public health.