CONSUMERS’ PERCEPTION OF SAFETY OF FOOD IN SOUTH -SOUTH AND SOUTH – EAST OF NIGERIA
Analysis of the perception and the consumer decision making processes are extremely important to assist the marketer to understand consumer behaviour, draft better positioning strategies and develop more effective advertising campaign based on product attributes. In most parts of the world, eating habits have long been dependent on a mixture of local production and imported conserved foods. More recently, manufactured foods have become an important part of many people’s diet and many of the world staple foods are now traded internationally as commodities. Despite the efforts by governments and both multilateral and bilateral agencies, weaknesses remain in national food safety control systems. There seem to be the absence of enforceable policies, regulatory mechanisms, resources and coordination in addressing the challenge. This research sought to:(1)ascertain whether education background has any effect on consumers perception on safety of food in south – south and south – east of Nigeria; (2) ascertain whether gender has effect on consumer perceptions on safety nature of food in south – south and south – east of Nigeria; (3) determine wh ether income has any effect on consumers perception of choice and preference for foreign food on safety reason; (4) determine whether consumers are aware of the environmental impact on safety of food supply in south – south and south- east of Nigeria. . The researcher made use of survey design. A sample size of four hundred (400) consumers was determined using the Taro Yamane statistical formula from a population of 37,396,384 that make up south-south and south-east geo-political zones. Data was collected using questionnaire structured in five point Likert scale and open ended questions. The data generated were analyzed with version 20 of Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). The test of hypotheses was performed using ANOVA for hypotheses 1 and 3, Mann-whitney z for testing hypothesis 2, while t-test statistics was used for hypotheses 4. Result showed that the stage of food supply chain that consumers perceived most unsafe is the processing stage and also preferred foods produced within their immediate environment for safety reasons. It was recommended amongst others that Consumers should not restrict themselves to the consumption of foods prepared within their immediate environment. Instead they should be proactive in determining how safe foods from other regions are before purchase and consumption as the widely proposed food security by Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), and individual countries can only be realized through interdependent and consumption of foods produced within and outside a region or continent.