Consumers' preferences for fresh yam: a focus group study

Food Sci Nutr. 2016 Apr 13;5(1):54-66. doi: 10.1002/fsn3.364. eCollection 2017 Jan.


In West and Central Africa and in the Caribbean, yam is one of the most important sources of carbohydrates and has a great potential to improve food security. The yam production sector is, however, now challenged by the satisfaction of evolving consumers' preferences. Since little is known about consumers' preferences regarding yams' characteristics, product quality, and the drivers of yam purchase, six focus group discussions were conducted (for a total of 31 participants). Among the purchasing criteria, price was considered more important than the others. It was followed by the external damage, the origin, and the size of the tuber. The most frequently cited consumption criteria were the taste, the texture, and color of flesh after cooking. Taste was considered more important than the other criteria. Three consumers' profiles were established reflecting heterogeneity in preferences, especially as concerns the willingness to pay for yam and consumption habits. They were designated as the Hedonistic, the Thrifty and the Flexible. Our results suggest that innovations can be implemented to sustain and stimulate the development of the yam sector in Guadeloupe. Two main development paths were identified. The first path is the valorization of the great existing diversity of yam varieties and the increase in the level of information for consumers about product attributes such as the cooking mode, the origin, and the mode of production. Building a marketing strategy based on the valorization of this diversity can help maintain and preserve yam's agro-biodiversity and the satisfaction of rapidly evolving consumption habits. The second path is the definition of yam ideotypes that suit consumers' needs. We expect that tailoring the production to consumers' needs will have a positive impact on global food security in the Caribbean region.

Keywords: Consumer profile; focus groups; food quality; sectorial innovation; the Caribbean; yam (Dioscorea sp.).