Engormix/Poultry Industry/Technical articles

Attitudes and Perceptions of Consumers to Chicken Egg Attributes in Eastern Ethiopia

Published on: 9/21/2021
Author/s : Senbeta E. K. 1, Zeleke N. A. 1 and Molla Y. G. 2 / 1 School of Animal and Range Sciences, Haramaya University, Dire Dawa, Ethiopia; 2 Collage of Veterinary Medicine, Dire Dawa University, Ethiopia.

The study was conducted to determine the consumer’s perceptions and attitudes of eggs in major urban settings of eastern Ethiopia. Survey was carried out on 90 people and data were purposively collected from ten retailers of each markets and people who came to purchase eggs at each open market. Data obtained through the survey were analyzed using SPSS software program. Based on the survey result, among 87 of respondents who consume eggs 71.1% considered egg as very important, 25.6% feel as important nutrition while all the three none egg consumers believed egg is not very important part in their diet. The large egg size, brown-shelled eggs and yellow yolk color are the preferred characters by 78.9%, 51.1% and 67.8% of respondents, respectively. Therefore; it is necessary to create awareness for consumers about the nutritional value of eggs to help them to change in their perception regarding egg quality.

Keywords: Attitudes, chicken eggs, preferences, retailers.

Poultry eggs are biological structures intended by nature for reproduction and are highly versatile foods containing many essential nutrients as they support life during embryonic growth (Abanikannda et al., 2007). Chicken eggs are familiar, nutritious, economical and easy to prepare food, as they provide balanced sources of nutrients for humans of all ages (Matt et al., 2009). Moreover, their high quality protein, low caloric value and easy of digestibility make eggs valuable in many therapeutic diets for adults (Bufano, 2000).
Egg quality refers to group of all traits that influence the use of eggs as foodstuff (Schwaegele, 2003). Egg quality is the characteristics of an egg that affect its acceptability to the consumers. Among many quality characteristics, external factors including cleanliness, freshness, egg weight and shell quality are important in consumer’s acceptability of shelled eggs (Sonaiya and Swan, 2004). Unlike external quality, the internal quality of eggs starts to decline as soon as they are laid by hens. Thus, although factors associated with the management and feeding of hens can play a role in internal egg quality, egg handling and storage practices also have a significant impact on the quality of eggs reaching consumers. Egg quality will mean different things to different people and the consumer’s perception of quality is likely to vary depending on their intended use of the egg and their own preferences.
Therefore, if customers’ needs in terms of egg quality are known, it might be possible for research centers to do selective poultry breeding and supply the market with eggs of highly demanded traits. So far in Eastern Ethiopia, research and extension works have focused on boosting egg production but no attention was given to type of egg preferred and consumed by the community. Hence, the study was tried to determine consumer’s perception, attitudes and handling practices regarding chicken egg attributes in eastern Ethiopia.
Materials and Methods
Description of the Study Area
The study was carried out in three major urban open markets of Eastern Ethiopia based on their market potentials, namely Dire Dawa, Haramaya and Harar open markets, located 515, 508 and 527 km from Addis Ababa, respectively. The elevation above sea level of the cities varies from 950 - 1250, 1600-2100, and 1600-1900m, respectively. The respective average temperature is about 18.2 -31.4 for Dire Dawa, 10-15 for Haramaya and 18-200C for Harar. The aggregate average annual rainfall that Dire Dawa, Haramaya and Harar gets are 604, 804.7 and 900mm, respectively (Alemu, 2008).
 Data Collection
Structured questionnaire was used to collect data from study unit on preferences for egg quality parameters and egg consumption habits. Data collecting formats were used to summarize and record secondary data and data generated from personal observations.
Study Population and Sampling
Ten retailers in the market that were involved in egg selling for more than a year were purposively selected from each site. In addition, consumers in the market as they came to buy eggs, and others having willingness to be incorporated in the study were included. A total of 90 respondents were taken to carry out the survey.
Statistical Analysis
Descriptive statistics such as frequency and percentage were calculated and all the surveyed data were analyzed using SPSS version 20.
Description of Study Population
The socio-economic statuses of the respondents involved in the study areas were females accounting for 66.75% (n=60) of the sample, as compared to 33.25 % (n=30) males. The age characteristics indicated that more than half of the respondents fell within the range of 31-45 years (62.2%) followed by 23.3 % (15-30 years) and only (14.4%) of the sampled respondents were aged above 45 years. Also, the educational background illustrates, majority illiterate (52.2%), others withdraw in primary (30%) and secondary (14.4%) school and only 3.3% had certificate.
Respondents Egg Consumption Among the respondents participating in the survey 96.7% of respondents consume eggs, of which 71.1% considered egg as very important whereas 25.6% feel as important nutrition in their diet; nevertheless, all of the none consumers believed as such not very important (3.3%). A fairly large proportion of the respondents (65.6%) ate eggs at least once a week and only 10% of the respondents consumed eggs 3 to 5 times a year on festival celebration and none of the respondents stayed as long as a year interval without consuming eggs except those that have health problems. Monthly consumption of eggs accounted for (20%) of the respondents.
Attitudes and Perceptions of Consumers to Chicken Egg Attributes in Eastern Ethiopia - Image 1
Attitudes and Perceptions of Consumers to Chicken Egg Attributes in Eastern Ethiopia - Image 2
Respondent’s Method to Identify Quality Eggs
Among 73.3% of respondents testing for internal quality; 81.8% used visual examination and 18.2% used floatation techniques. 26.7% of the city retailers didn’t test eggs for internal quality.
Respondent’s Egg Consumption Among the respondents participating in the survey a few do not consume eggs due to health problems, mainly gastric injury and believed as such not very important in their diet. A fairly large proportion of the respondents ate eggs at least once a week showed that egg is in high demand as a form of animal protein. Alike the present survey, Ajay et al., (2007) reported that 51.66% of households consumed chicken eggs once a week. As well, Ronald (2000) reported that people of low income status can use eggs as a source of many nutrients at a very economical price.
Respondent’s Preferences to Egg Size
Although retailers did not allow selecting for egg size, high proportion of respondents (Table 1) stated a preference for big or large egg size as it is natural for consumers to want to maximize utility. As displayed in Table 2, some respondents preferred small egg size expected as it comes from pullet layers and believed as it was used for a medicine of pneumonia, whereas only a small proportion stated a preference for medium size eggs, but they had no reason. Presently there are no grading standards for eggs in most Africa countries (Chukuwuka et al., 2011) and shell eggs are sold on per individual basis. Even in places where eggs are sold on per weight basis, like the USA (USDA, 2000) and Japan, preference is for large egg size. Jacob et al., (2000) reported that the greatest consumer demand in America is for large and extralarge eggs. Hashimoto et al., (2011) reported a similar trend in a survey of 273 households in 23 districts of Japan. About 50.7% of the respondents preferred large sized eggs explaining that the volume and price of the egg are moderate indicating that indeed egg size is important and that it is linked to price.
Respondent’s Preferences to Yolk Colors
As described in Table 1, the majority of the respondents prefer yellow yolk color and the most important factor in a respondent’s desire for yellow colored egg yolks was their belief that eggs with yellow colored yolks are more delicious, has a high nutritional value and attractive from a visual perspective (Table 2). Contrarily; the most important factor in a respondent’s desire for white colored egg yolks was their belief that eggs with white colored yolks are healthier and have a high nutritional value than the other as indicated in Table 2.
Respondent’s Preferences to Shell Colors
Shell color is another factor that influences consumer choice. Shell color is not an indication of internal egg quality and says nothing about the nutritive value or the quality of the egg (Flock et al., 2007). However, there is usually a consumer preference to either white or brown, which needs to be given a due consideration in marketing eggs. In this regard, more than half prefer brown-shelled eggs, incorrectly believing them to be more nutritious and a better taste than white eggs and also they expected as brown eggs comes from local hens with attractive yellow yolk colours. On the other hand, some respondents were found to prefer white shelled eggs as they appear cleaner and fresher, while other consumers do not pay attention to the color of the shell considered as the same function and quality as illustrated in Table 1. However, there is no evidence that white and brown eggs have different nutritional value (Goddard et al., 2007). Similarly; Odabasi et al., (2007) reported that consumers in United Kingdom, Italy, Portugal, Ireland, Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand prefer brown eggs over white eggs. On the other hand white eggs are most in demand among Americans (Jacob et al., 2000; Johnston et al., 2011), and Japanese consumers (Hashimoto et al., 2011). The preference for brown shelled eggs in New England (Jacob et al., 2000), United Kingdom Australia and New Zealand (Odabasi et al., 2007) indicates a cultural dimension to egg shell colour preference considering the common geo-cultural origin of populations in these regions. Uniformity of eggs in tray was found to be an important quality characteristic corresponding to the grading system of the USDA, where lack of uniformity in size and colour is considered a major egg defect (USDA, 2000). USDA (2000) also reported that mixed colour or uneven sized eggs are discriminated against and that eggs sorted and packed in one colour ("whites" or "browns") sell better than the mixed colour. Contrarily, however, Johnston (2011) found that varying colour shades in cartoned eggs was equally as acceptable as uniform coloured eggs. Consumers’ misconceptions influenced the eggs that they selected. Respondents who believed the nutritional value of brown eggs as high consumed more brown eggs and less white eggs. The result demonstrates that it is necessary to create awareness for consumers about the nutritional value of eggs to help them to change in their perception regarding egg quality.
Respondent Preferences for Breeds of Chicken Eggs
As described in Table 2, almost half of respondents preferred to buy eggs of local chickens as they were considered to be tasty and the yellow colored yolk was commonly favored. Respondents explained that eggs from local chickens tastes better because they are scavenging natural rather than formulated feed (chemical feed). Others preferred to buy eggs of exotic chickens as they were considered to be large in size to maximize utility and better visual attractiveness of the shell colour and few respondents cannot choose for the breeds of eggs understood for their similar nutrition. Similarly, Fisseha (2009) reported in his study that most consumers preferred to buy local eggs from producers as they were considered to be tasty and attractive dark colored yolk. Consumer preference observed for eggs from local, improved and both local and improved chicken were 77.8%, 17.8% and 4.4% respondents in Ada’a and 87.8%, 7.8% and 4.4%, in Lume districts, respectively, as reported by Desalew (2012).
Respondents Method to Identify Quality Eggs
Majority of respondents testing for internal quality; either used visual examination through the sun or light source to see clear internal quality as light passed through good quality eggs or floatation techniques in a bucket or container filled with water before preparation or cooking after they will take to their home and considered as spoiled or deteriorated if it was sink. Likewise, Alemu (2001) recommended that visual examination through the sunlight and immersing eggs in bucket full of warm water are very important methods for the local farmers for identifying the quality of eggs. But the accuracy of the methods and the ability of the farmers to test the eggs might be the probable causes of poor quality eggs. As well, Mammo (2006) reported as 61% of the households responded that they could identify normal eggs from the spoiled by visual observation. A few city retailers didn’t test eggs for internal quality, believed clients which did check quality during their collection. Clients which collect eggs from household or from small locally held weekly markets and transported from village to the city retailers as most consumers with greater purchasing power live in and around cities. According to Desalew (2012), urban markets followed by nearest local market and farm gate are, in order of importance, the preferred outlets for egg marketing by producers. Also Mammo (2006) reported in his study, around 65% of eggs produced and chickens transported towards big cities by middlemen due to low purchasing power of the local consumers. All respondents did not cook or consume eggs with blood or meat spot either in the yolk or albumen and they considered as the eggs were deteriorated. All agreed that sometimes they found blood spot in the yolk and generally rejected with other eggs that had no spot once it was mixed in a single cooking material. Karoui et al., (2006) reported as consumers are usually critical of natural factors such as blood or meat spots that may cause loss of quality. Blood spots are caused by slight bleeding at the time of release of the ovule (yolk) from the ovary of the hen and may be found in white or adhering to the yolk as reported by Jacqueline et al., (2009).
This study was conducted to address the consumer’s attitudes and perception to chicken egg attributes from major urban settings in eastern Ethiopia. To this effect, the survey work was carried out on 90 people purposively selected and consumers in the market as they came to buy egg interviewed to collect information on their preferences for egg quality parameters. The results demonstrated that shell colour, egg size and, yolk colour and nutritional information of eggs influence the attitude and perceptions of the consumers and consequently their choice of table eggs in the market. Therefore, it may be necessary to create awareness for consumers to change in their perception regarding egg quality and also recommended to do selective poultry breeding and supply the market with eggs of highly demanded traits according to preferences of the consumers.
This article was originally published in Journal of Animal Production Advances 2015, 5(6): 705-710. DOI: 10.5455/japa.20150626043752.

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