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Master of Agribusiness

Consumer Color Preferences and the Economics of Bean Consumption in Malawi

Austin Mbamba, Lilongwe District, Malawi, defended his thesis, “Consumer Color Preferences and the Economics of Bean Consumption in Malawi” on March 23. He works as a Marketing Development Officer for the National Smallholder Farmers Association of Malawi. Mbamba will be a spring 2019 graduate from Kansas State University with a Master of Agribusiness (MAB) degree.

In Malawi, a variety of dry bean crops of different colors are produced. Research indicates that customers link bean color to taste, cooking time, gravy quality and other desirable characteristics, but little research exists on what colored beans consumers prefer. Commonly, red beans, red mottled beans, white beans and cream mottled beans are purchased and consumed, and using data collected by the Bean Value Chain Research Network in Malawi, Mbamba evaluated consumer preferences in relation to these bean colors.

“The main objective of this research was to assess the factors that determine consumption of different types of dry beans in Malawi based on color to determine preferences for different consumer segments. Hence, the potential value of these preferences can be communicated across the dry bean supply chain to enhance the probability of success for breeder’ efforts and the bean value chain’s initiatives” Mbamba said.

Mbamba studied the relationship between bean color and consumer preferences in Malawi. His results indicated that consumers prefer red beans above red mottled, white and cream mottled beans, and that marital and employment statuses heavily influenced the consumption of white beans. These results provide insights for bean breeders in their attempts to increase producer profits by developing genetics that align with consumer preferences.

Dr. Vincent Amanor-Boadu, Professor and Mbamba’s thesis advisor, said, “This work is important because it helps inform the bean supply chain, from breeders through to retailers. By allowing the industry to segment the consumer markets, it helps improve economic performance, increase incomes and reduce poverty.”

The full thesis publication can be found online on Kansas State University’s Research Exchange at http://hdl.handle.net/2097/39346.