Transformation of food systems has influenced the way food is produced, processed, distributed, prepared, and consumed. In the wake of these transformations, food safety and quality requirements are becoming an increasingly important issue in entire value chains. Research highlights a number of food-related challenges in Africa generally, including in Tanzania, related to, for example: mycotoxin contamination, chemical contamination, the presence of antibiotics residuals, the presence of growth hormones, and diet-related non-communicable disease.
For example, the number of people who are overweight or obese has increased by 21% since 1992, and this rapid change is among men, women and children, urban and rural dwellers alike. There has also been increased evidence of the occurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma and impaired growth in children, linked with chemical and mycotoxin contamination, which cost low-income countries like Tanzania up to USD 110 billion annually from both healthcare provision and lost productivity. Mitigating these challenges and increasing the sustainability of food systems will require coordinated action by governments, supply chain actors, consumers and appropriate partners.
Therefore, this project focuses on the consumer, in a bid to understand the drivers of food choices and devise interventions likely to influence behavioural change towards more responsible consumption of food. The study includes an experimental approach with twin areas of focus. It specifically aims to ascertain what consumers in Tanzania value in terms of food, and how that affects their food choices, and to assess the effect of different interventions – including education, nutrition labels, and certification – on healthy food choices.