Cultural Determinants of Food Choices by Hospitality Clientele in Commercial Catering Outlets within Kisumu County, Kenya
Were, Simon O.
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When one grows up in a distinctive culture, it’s bound to influence his/her lifestyle, including adopted traditions, taboos, rituals, belief system-and perhaps most enjoyable, his/her food choice. Thus, Culture in its diversity, comprising of beliefs, taboos, traditions, as well as rituals, has dietary requirements with regard to the dishes and/ingredients that may be consumed. Melia (2011) asserts that Food choices among the global hospitality clientele are diverse; including ethnic cuisines, fusion cuisines and contemporary cuisines, with a variety of factors determining these choices. However, in spite of this broad classification of cuisines, the menu, and especially the Kenyan menu, has particularly focused on exotic national cuisines such as the French cuisine, Italian cuisine, German cuisine, Mexican cuisine, Indian cuisine etc (Jee Hye Lee, 2014), in an effort to increase and/ or maintain profitability. Moreover, the Kenyan hospitality training institutions have put more emphasis on culinary skills that incline towards the worlds’ cuisines, with very little, and sometimes no focus on the pure ethnic culinary skills within their programs. Therefore, the purpose of the study was to investigate the cultural factors that determine food choices among hospitality clientele in the commercial catering outlets. The general objective was to investigate the hospitality industry’s client food choices, and the cultural factors that determine food item choices among the clients. A cross-section survey as well as descriptive correlation survey approach was adopted, while the target population constituted hospitality clientele patronizing the food outlets in Kisumu City of Kisumu County. Purposive sampling, systematic random sampling, as well as simple random sampling were employed, with a sample size of 384 respondents. Pre-testing was conducted in three commercial catering outlets to ensure validity of the instruments, while on the other hand, the reliability statistics for independent variable had Cronchbach’s Alpha coefficient of 0.891(>0.70), while those of moderating variable had Cronchbach’s Alpha coefficient of 0.792 (>0.70). Interview schedules and questionnaires were administered to the study population and recorded a response rate of 97.6%. Data was coded and analyzed by use of SPSS version 20, and presented via descriptive statistics including frequencies and percentages, inferential statistics including regression and chi square, ANOVA and t-test. The results of the study show that there is a relationship between cultural factors and food choices by hospitality clientele in commercial catering outlets within Kisumu City, Kisumu County, hence food choices are determined by cultural factors; traditions, taboos, beliefs and rituals respectively. Conversely, the study results depicts that there is influence of environmental factors on the relationship between cultural factors and food choices by hospitality clientele in commercial catering outlets within Kisumu City in Kisumu County. Thus environmental factors, including geographic factors, economic factors and social factors, have a moderating influence on the relationship between cultural factors and food choices by hospitality clientele. Hypotheses of the study were formulated and tested at 0.05% level of significance. The results show that the study failed to reject all the three null hypotheses and concluded at 95% confidence level; there is no significant relationship between cultural factors and food choices among the hospitality clientele in commercial catering outlets within Kisumu city, Kisumu County, there is no significant influence of environmental factors on the relationship between cultural factors and food choices by hospitality clientele in commercial catering outlets within Kisumu city in Kisumu County, and there is no significant relationship between environmental factors and food choices by the hospitality clientele in commercial catering outlets within Kisumu city, Kisumu County. In conclusion, the study found out that; food choices are determined by the cultural factors, environmental factors on the other hand have a moderating influence on the food choices by hospitality clientele, and there is an effect of environmental factors on food choices.