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Working paper - 17 Urban Domestic Consumption Patterns for Meat: Trends and Policy Implications

Author(s):  Gamba, Paul

Introduction

The importance of Livestock products in the diet of Kenyans is amply demonstrated by the observation that some form of livestock product often constitutes any given meal from low-income households through high-income households. The most common form of livestock products consumed by households relate to either meat or dairy products.

While consumption patterns for dairy and other livestock products have recently been studied, meat has continued to receive very little attention. The dearth of studies particularly with regard to urban and rural meat consumption has translated into inadequate information for policy decisions and poorly informed debates. The absence of informative studies on meat consumption patterns has contributed to the relegation of consumer issues and concerns in the livestock policy arena. The lack of articulation of consumer concerns in livestock policy is aggravated by the weak and uncoordinated consumer organizations.

The overly visible attention accorded production and producer issues in livestock policy only serves to further suppress the consumer dimension. It has however been shown that improved agricultural productivity may ultimately be reflected in increased accessibility and affordability of agricultural products to the relief of low resource households.

A recent study on livestock and livestock products production and marketing (European Union, 2003) observed that a major gap in information exists with respect to national meat consumption data. The study had to rely on estimations to discern meat consumption levels, patterns and trends in both urban and rural areas and among different socio-economic groups.

Although excessive consumption of red meat elicits health concerns, it is also recognized that it is a preferred source of proteins for most households who are particularly inclined towards meat. The study focuses on Nairobi as the major urban center and takes account of the large and expanding human population in the city that would be expected to increase demand and stimulate the influx of livestock from far-flung areas and even neighboring countries. This phenomenon occurs due to the realization that prospects for commercialization are to be found in urban areas where the dispersed but diverse and concentrated population require value addition (processing), infrastructural and delivery services for most agricultural produce.

It has been hypothesized that increasing urbanization and population enhances demand for animal protein (Delgado et al, 1999). The demand for meat is nonetheless tempered by prices, income levels and in some cases health considerations. However, the observation for Sub-Saharan Africa negates this hypothesis since available statistics indicate that this is the only region of the world known to have registered declines in food production including livestock products while recording higher population growth rates and urbanization (FAO, 2004).

This study examines urban domestic meat consumption patterns and emerging trends among consumers with different economic backgrounds and socio-economic characteristics. The channels for acquisition of the different meat products are also examined in addition to the terminal livestock markets. It is expected that the information emanating from this study will provide useful insights on the changing urban consumption patterns, trends and the requisite policy issues.

 

Urban Domestic Consumption Patterns for Meat: Trends and Policy Implications

 

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