Consumer preferences for different sources of vitamin A in Odisha, India and Alberta, Canada

  • Author / Creator
    Ngo, Sandra
  • Vitamin A deficiency is a form of malnutrition that affects 127 million people globally, leading to increased risk of infection, ocular disorders, and/or impaired growth (WHO 2004). There are multiple ways to increase vitamin A intake including supplements, whole, fortified, and biofortified foods. Given that it may be in policymakers’ best interests to increase the vitamin A intake of individuals and households, understanding preferences for food or pill-based vehicles could be important. Preferences of Indian consumers (n = 120) and Canadian consumers (n = 102) were compared. Although extremely disparate population samples, data has indicated that vitamin A deficiency exists in both countries (Kirkpatrick and Tarasuk 2008; Wallace 2012). The objectives of this study were threefold: 1) to estimate the individual’s preferences for different vitamin A vehicles by their willingness to exchange supplements for vitamin A rich foods, 2) to examine the impact of perceptions of naturalness, knowledge of nutrition and diet, and food technology neophobia on Vitamin A vehicle preferences, and finally, 3) to compare the subsamples within Odisha, India and Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and identify common preference indicators that may be similar, suggesting factors that might be population independent and worth further investigation in recommending programs in vitamin A deficient populations elsewhere. A consumer choice experiment with a modified payment card was used to analyze the probability that individuals would exchange a food for supplements with which they were endowed. This allowed the calculation of willingness to pay (WTP) for different sources of vitamin A. These food-based sources included biofortified sweet potato (Meenakshi et al 2012), fortified edible oils (margarine in Canada), and carrots. Each of the food bundles satisfied seven days of recommended vitamin A intake. This way, participants could better understand what the equivalences were in terms of foods versus pills for vitamin A content. A survey was then administered to identify perceptions for naturalness, nutrition knowledge, and food technology neophobia of participants. These attitudes and perceptions were scored based on methods in the literature. Multinomial logit and random parameters logit regressions were used to estimate probabilities of exchanging each of the vitamin A rich goods within the choice set for vitamin A supplements. From the parameter estimates, the mean WTP to exchange supplements for fortified oil (or margarine in Canada), carrots, and biofortified sweet potato were calculated for the Indian and Canadian subsamples. Further, mean WTP to exchange supplements for a food was compared between participants with higher and lower scores for the three attitude measures. Results indicated that Indian participants with high confidence in their knowledge of nutrition and diet were willing to pay significantly less for fortified oil, carrots, or biofortified sweet potato compared to participants with lower confidence. High food technology neophobia participants in India were also willing to pay less to switch from supplements to fortified oil or biofortified sweet potato. In Canada, no attitude factors except objective knowledge of nutrition and diet affected WTP estimates for different vitamin A vehicles. Overall, results suggest that Canadians and Indians were willing to pay a premium for food-based vitamin A vehicles as opposed to supplements, with the exception of margarine in Canada, which was discounted. Therefore food-based approaches may be a viable alternative to supplements for policymakers to increase vitamin A intake in these populations.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2016
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.