The Emerging Scholars Initiative (ESI) is a platform dedicated to encouraging younger scholars generate a wider interest in their research.

The Emerging Scholars Initiative (ESI) is a platform dedicated to encouraging younger scholars generate a wider interest in their research.

The Emerging Scholars Initiative (ESI) is a platform dedicated to encouraging younger scholars generate a wider interest in their research.

The Emerging Scholars Initiative (ESI) is a platform dedicated to encouraging younger scholars generate a wider interest in their research.

ESI Books – Sciences

About Consumer Product Testing Across Countries in Africa

Published Date 2021

Page numbers 38

Introduction by J Makame & H L de Kock

Department of Consumer and Food Sciences, University of Pretoria

In 2020, the African Network for Sensory Evaluation Research (ANSWER) initiated an ambitious, exciting project, the Africa countries profile project. ANSWER is a network that was founded in 2019 to build capacity and to transfer knowledge and skills, to help sensory and consumer science researchers in African countries to adapt and apply global best practice principles to the specific circumstances and challenges faced in Africa’s product value systems. The purpose of the project was to compile information for researchers and students to use when planning testing of food and other products with local consumers in countries in Africa. The vision to present an online, open access, easy-to-use guide document.

This first edition of the consumer country profiles for Africa contains information about the four African countries (Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, and Uganda) which are the focus of the InnoFoodAfrica project ( – a European Commission-funded, multi-partner consortium project that seeks to enhance the sustainability and healthfulness of diets and food value systems in Africa. The compilation of the country profiles is loosely based on a publication of ASTM, formerly known as American Society for Testing and Materials, called International Consumer Product Testing Across Cultures and Countries, and will be updated continuously to include new information and more countries.

The ‘Africa countries profile’ project aims to leverage research about the sensory properties of products on the continent. Incidentally, fortunately and concurrently, the African Union Commission (AUC) published a key book in September 2020: ‘Africa Factbook-bursting the myths’. The book details information about Africa’s 55 nations. Readers are encouraged to access the information in this document to learn more about Africa and her people. The two projects share the same bold vision and view. Put in the words of the African Union Commission (2020), Africa has so much potential, which must be harnessed by both Africans and friends of Africa.

A substantial proportion of the African population is currently food-insecure and of low socioeconomic background (Rakotosamimanana and De Kock 2020). As part of our effort to end poverty and build a better future, we need to present Africa as it is, as it was, and how we wish it to be (African Union Commission 2020). The development of suitable products that can improve the situation requires testing by consumers. Projects for this purpose require proper planning based on information about local infrastructure, customs, and methods. This is the first publication of its kind. It has potential to create awareness of the role of Sensory and Consumer Science in providing the answers most sought after by product developers and manufacturers. Information is key for boosting product revenues, contributing to good health and wellbeing, providing food and nutritional security, and also promoting the global Sustainable Development Goals, especially SDG 2 and 3 (ending hunger, promoting good health and wellbeing).

Sensory science is a scientific specialty area used to assess, study, and explain the responses to the attributes of products as observed and interpreted by respondents using their senses of sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing (Stone, Bleibaum and Thomas 2020; Ruiz-Capillas and Herrero 2021). Sensory testing is a useful tool in new product development and innovation. Consumers’ feedback about intrinsic and extrinsic product characteristics is key for understanding the benefits of products. The sensory experiences of potential consumers opens up space and inspiration for innovation (Ruiz-Capillas and Herrero 2021). Consumer responses are greatly influenced by cultural factors and habits. Culture involves shared meanings, values, and practices, within and among groups, and works conjointly with language, which is essential to the human mind and behaviour (Gelfand and Kashima 2016).

Africa is home to a very diverse population of consumers — different ethnic communities with different languages, arts, and culture. Even within individual countries there exists a wide cross-cultural and ethnic diversity, which is why it is critical to define and understand, at the outset, the consumer profiles of the target countries for research purposes. Cross-cultural sensory and consumer research involves both consumer psychology and the dynamic interaction between consumers, situations, and products (Lee and Lopetcharat 2017).

Products themselves are proxies of cultures (Lee and Lopetcharat 2017), and in-depth testing of products is needed to study relationships between thinking styles and sensory drivers of liking across different [African] cultures. Understanding the factors that determine food acceptance and choices in different cultures, and finding the opportunities for successful product development with increased global acceptance, is critical for entrepreneurial survival in an increasingly diverse and competitive market (Meiselman 2013). The drivers of food choices for African consumers remain largely uncharacterized. Studies investigating such questions in different African countries are necessary to better align food choice determinants and drivers of liking/disliking with product development and intervention strategies (Rakotosamimanana and De Kock 2020). As companies strive to survive in the global marketplace, understanding how consumers from different cultures perceive products is a key for success (Åström, Goldman and Heiniö 2006). The consumer country profile for Africa project seeks to promote greater understanding of the Africa market. The purpose of this document is to provide researchers with insight when considering consumer testing of products in countries in Africa. It highlights issues and practicalities that may be important to know when planning and executing consumer product tests in these countries. Consideration is given to language issues, questionnaire design, and the practical running of tests.

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