Analysis of Consumer Preference in Product Attributes: A Case of Common Beans in Kiambu County, Kenya
Gitonga, Hannah Wairimu
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Common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) is an important source of livelihood and food for approximately three million households in Kenya. Consumers appreciate common bean more due to its nutritional value and health benefits. Between 2005 and 2009, a total of 403,604 MT of bean with a value of US$ 199,743,000 was produced in Kenya. The Kenyan bean market has a deficit of 14,256 metric tons and is dominated by old improved bean varieties, an indication of consumer preference for those beans. This is despite new varieties being released into the market following intensive research and breeding work done by research institutions. Consumer preference assessment gives important information on acceptability of a commodity by consumers. The primary objective of this study, therefore, was to analyze consumer preference for common bean varieties by attribute sensory test and willingness to pay for preferred attributes. This study focused on bean consumers and traders in two districts, Thika East and Thika West of Kiambu County. The region was chosen as a test bed for this study due to high utilization of common beans in most of the diets among the residents. Additionally the two districts were selected because of their high population, diverse socioeconomic characteristics of residents, and their rural and urban living setups. Semi structured questionnaires were used to elicit information from 212 consumers and 67 traders who were randomly selected. Bean variety preference was assessed using a preference scale of 1-7 score. A pairwise analysis of eight bean attributes was done to assess preference of bean attributes. This was followed by assessment of attributes in seven bean varieties using likert scale of 1-5 rank. A hedonic price model was used to analyze effect of preferred attributes on price consumers were willing to pay. Data analysis was done using descriptive and inferential statistics in Excel and SPSS software programs. Results showed that beans were an important part of respondents diet with majority of respondents (86%) consuming beans more than once a week. Rural respondents consumed beans more frequently compared to urban respondents; difference in consumption was statistically significant (p-value =0.025). Beans were popular with women (83%) and were consumed by all age groups but there was more consumption in the 31-40 years age group (26.8%). GLP 585 was ranked l ", GLP 2 was ranked 2nd and KAT X56 was ranked 3rd in preference by 64.7%, 43% 39.8% respondents respectively. GLP varieties were popular among urban respondents while rural respondents consumed both GLP and KAT varieties. Consumers had preference for cooking quality, keeping quality, color, taste, low flatulence and grain size attributes associated with GLP 585, KAT X56, GLP 2 and KAT B1 varieties. Consumers were willing to pay a premium for taste, price, cooking time and discount for grain size of GLP 585. They also discounted grain size in KAT X56 and KAT B9. Other discounts were in color of KAT B9, taste of GLP 2 and flatulence of KAT X56 varieties. Based on the findings of the study, it is recommended that government supports breeding and improvement programs to ensure seeds with preferred attributes are available and affordable to producers. This would enhance acceptability and utilization of beans by consumers. It is further recommended evaluation of KAT Bl' s, low consumer preference, yet it has preferred attributes.