Prof MN Emmambux Participation to the NAMPO AGRICULTURAL TRADE SHOW
MR L Manana
Prof MN Emmambux of University of Pretoria visited the NAMPO Agricultural Trade event organized by agriculture sectors at NAMPO PARK in BOTHAVILLE and participated in panel by NATION IN CONVERSATION. The NAMPO Park shows many agricultures related operations (farming or animal equipment and feed), business, and electrical equipment such as robots, automobiles, drones and solar panels exhibitions from different key role players in the farming industry. The exhibitors also showcased practical demonstrations of new ideas for overcoming common problems faced by farmers, such as power failures or load shedding. Farmers and businesses displayed their freshly planned designs or customized equipment to deal with real problems, for example some exhibitor shows how to process whole grains to produce high-quality product such as expanded snacks by CFAM Ltd, and world-class food and feed processing equipment was visited.
NATION IN CONVERSION held a live broadcast discussion, the topic of “The changing face of food: shifting consumer food preference and consumption patterns. Professor NM Emmambux was part of the panellist together with Johan van Deventer the retired CEO of fresh mark, Wolf Braude from Agbiz fruit desk and Marina Fourie from the red meat industry services (RMIS). The driving factor of consumer behaviour in terms of food was explored during the panel conversation. It was stated that consumer preferences are influenced by a variety of elements. Consumers prefer more convenient and affordable food products that are energy dense, over nutrient dense meals rich in micronutrients, vitamins, minerals, and other essential minerals. One of the panellists adds that producers work very hard to match international standards, especially when it comes to fresh fruits and vegetables to meet consumer demand overseas. Affordability has a significant impact on consumer behaviour, with changes occurring as a result of differing income levels. High-income consumers have more options since they choose sophisticated products and high-quality stores. With so much load shedding going on, most high-income consumers prefer ready-to-eat food, which requires less labour than low-income consumers, who want to work on a limited budget to cover affordable and convenient food product.
Prof Emmambux mentioned the work they are doing with Innovation Food Africa, this is an EU Horizon 2020 funded initiative at the University of Pretoria that provides a focused investment platform for agricultural research and capacity building requirements in the future. As part of their research, the initiative conducts a nutritional survey on a variety of food products and collaborates with farmers to develop novel food ingredients and packaging methods. Prof Emmambux further stated one the InnofoodAfrica work packages, which includes using infographics on bio-packages as a form of alternative method of communicating with consumers. This is done with the goal of improving consumer-product communication and ensuring that consumers are adequately catered to when it comes to consuming healthier food.
The panellist highlighted that South Africa is widely recognized for its high consumption of grain products such as cereal grain processed into bread or maize and other cereal-based products. It was noted that how cereal-based foods feel or taste influences consumer preferences. Prof Emmambux mentioned that Whole grain or whole wheat bread is sometimes rejected by consumers due to its texture or sensation of fibre in the mouth. Food scientists have a responsibility to develop food that is both tasty and healthy. ‘Most grain, when milled, becomes refined flour for immediate wheat to create bread or maize meal’ stated Emmambux. For improved health, these two items are classified mostly as high GI. ‘The Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) /National Research Foundation (NRF) centres of excellence in food security, as well as various programs such as innovation Food Africa, are conducting more research into using other accessible legumes, grains, and pulses to manufacture bread and other food products that contain both starch and protein” mentioned Prof Emmambux. From a food science experience, Prof Emmambux highlighted that some consumers choose maize meal because it is familiar to them; consequently, it can be modified to be slightly low GI by complexing part of the available starch to beome dietary fibre, which is good for gut health. IN a nutshell, it was also suggested that the consumers want SMART foods as : S = safe, M = marketable, A = affordable, R = ready to eat, T = taste”.
In conclusion, it was mentioned that the whole food chain: from farm to fork has an important role in terms of making food healthier and more convenient. This is due to many challenges face by both consumers and producers such as product affordability. The use of indigenous food from an African perspective to make the African-based diet healthier must be looked at by scientists and producers to promote the local market.
The live stream can be watched at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vEKYMermtw