The proposed study aims to investigate the potential of neglected and underutilised species (NUS) in South Africa, with a focus on cowpea, to promote dietary diversity in the urban food system. The study hopes to (i) contribute towards understanding food choice behaviour of urban consumers in relation to underutilised food species such as cowpeas; (ii) examine the behaviour intentions and willingness to choose NUS when making food choices among male and female urban consumers older than 18 years in the city of Durban, eThekwini Municipality, in KwaZulu-Natal Province; and (ii) compile recipes for healthier food options made from indigenous foods to promote food diversity in support of healthy eating. This study aims to address these aspects within the food environment component of the food system that shape consumer food choices. It can also contribute to policies that promote underutilised indigenous foods in order to increase dietary diversity in Durban.
This research will utilise focus groups and surveys to gather data. An initial focus group will be used to ascertain salient attitudes and beliefs underlying food choice behaviour. A consumer survey using the prototype willingness model (PWM) will be used to examine behaviour intentions and willingness when making food choices. Additional focus group interviews with key stakeholders – including researchers, farmers, indigenous knowledge holders, chefs, retailers, and government officials – will be conducted to build on knowledge pertaining to the emerging issues. Understanding the antecedents leading to selecting healthier food options will contribute to multi-level strategies that can be implemented to address food systems challenges.