FOOD RETAIL ASSESSMENT AND FAMILY FOOD PURCHASE BEHAVIOR IN ASHONGMAN ESTATES, GHANA|
Aryeety, R; Oltmans, S & Owusu, F
A key feature of the nutrition transition in developed countries is the rapid transformation of the food system towards increasing availability and access to cheaper, and more processed foods. These changes are associated with alterations in dietary behavior with implications for chronic disease risk. However, the process of change in the food system begins with changes in the food retail system and its subsequent effect on consumer behavior. Currently, little is known about the nature of the food marketplace in emerging economies like Ghana, and also how the changing economy and food retail situation are influencing consumer behavior. The current paper presents a case study of the food retail system and consumer food purchase behavior in suburban Accra. Between May and August 2012, an assessment of food retail outlets was carried out in Ashongman Estates, a suburb of Accra. The study involved observations, in-depth interviews with retailers, and a survey of households. Data from the study allowed classification of retail food vendors across the urban food retail system. In addition, data on food purchase preferences and purchase behavior were obtained from a household survey of 75 randomly selected households in Ashongman Estates. The data showed that traditional markets still constitute the most important source of household food purchases. A majority of households (87%) reported preference for traditional markets, and almost all households (99%) indicated traditional markets as their main source for purchasing household food. Foods available from supermarkets were mainly processed foods. However, processed foods are also commonly available through the traditional markets and minimarkets. The preference for traditional markets was attributed to greater variety of foods, lower price, and proximity of food source. Minimarket vendors, including corner stores, table top vendors, hawkers, and fuel station shops that are located within the community, served as an additional food source, complementing food purchases from the traditional markets. The study concluded that although traditional markets remain the main source of household food, interventions are needed to ensure that food markets in the community include access to a variety of fresh produce rather than promote processed foods, in order to promote consumer health.
Food environment; traditional market; retail; supermarket; minimarkets; suburban food market