Applying the food technology neophobia scale in a developing country context. A case-study on processed matooke (cooking banana) flour in Central Uganda
Hans De Steur, Walter Odongo, Xavier Gellynck
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The success of new food technologies largely depends on consumers' behavioral responses to the innovation. In Eastern Africa, and Uganda in particular, a technology to process matooke into flour has been introduced with limited success. We measure and apply the Food technology Neophobia Scale (FTNS) to this specific case. This technique has been increasingly used in consumer research to determine consumers' fear for foods produced by novel technologies. Although it has been successful in developed countries, the low number and limited scope of past studies underlines the need for testing its applicability in a developing country context. Data was collected from 209 matooke consumers from Central Uganda. In general, respondents are relatively neophobic towards the new technology, with an average FTNS score of 58.7%, which hampers the success of processed matooke flour. Besides socio-demographic indicators, ‘risk perception’, ‘healthiness’ and the ‘necessity of technologies’ were key factors that influenced consumer's preference of processed matooke flour. Benchmarking the findings against previous FTNS surveys allows to evaluate factor solutions, compare standardized FTNS scores and further lends support for the multidimensionality of the FTNS. Being the first application in a developing country context, this study provides a case for examining food technology neophobia for processed staple crops in various regions and cultures. Nevertheless, research is needed to replicate this method and evaluate the external validity of our findings.