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Staple Food Consumption Patterns in Urban Kenya: Trends and Policy Implications


  • Muyanga, Milu
  • Jayne, Thom S.
  • Argwings-Kodhek, Gem
  • Ariga, Joshua


This study examines current consumption patterns of the main staple carbohydrate products in Nairobi -- maize, wheat, rice, and cooking bananas -- in an effort to update policy makers’ knowledge of current urban food consumption patterns. The study also identifies the factors driving changes in the amount and form of urban maize meal consumption, in order to better understand how food security policy should be designed to respond to the needs of low-income consumers. The study reveals how consumption and expenditure patterns differ according to household income. The study also examines whether the marketing channels used by the poor to secure their staple carbohydrate products differ from those used by relatively high-income consumers. The data used in this study comes from a cross-sectional random survey of 542 households in Nairobi’s urban areas and environs. The Tegemeo Institute in collaboration with the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) using the CBS’s NASSEP IV frame implemented the survey in November/December 2003. An earlier analysis of household survey data conducted in 1995 involving a random survey of 549 in Nairobi was used was a baseline. The results indicate that while generally the volumes of staple carbohydrate consumption have declined, it is the poorest section of the urban population that has been affected the most. Also, on average, there has been a decline in consumption of maize products and rice. The poorest have experienced the greatest decline. Consumption of wheat products has grown significantly among all groups, but particularly among higher income groups. These results also indicate a significant shift in maize meal consumption patterns. Even though posho meal consumption has declined, it continues to be a preserve of the poor because it is relatively inexpensive compared to sifted maize meal. Retail channels used to procure staple carbohydrate products vary substantially by income. The poorest income groups rely mainly on small shops
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  • Muyanga, Milu & Jayne, Thom S. & Argwings-Kodhek, Gem & Ariga, Joshua, 2005. "Staple Food Consumption Patterns in Urban Kenya: Trends and Policy Implications," Working Papers 202624, Egerton University, Tegemeo Institute of Agricultural Policy and Development.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:egtewp:202624

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jayne, T. S. & Argwings-Kodhek, Gem, 1997. "Consumer response to maize market liberalization in urban Kenya," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(5), pages 447-458, October.
    2. Jayne, T. S. & Jones, Stephen, 1997. "Food marketing and pricing policy in Eastern and Southern Africa: A survey," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 25(9), pages 1505-1527, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jayne, T.S. & Zulu, Ballard & Nijhoff, J.J., 2006. "Stabilizing food markets in eastern and southern Africa," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 328-341, August.
    2. Hoeffler, Heike, 2006. "Promoting the Kenyan Potato Value Chain: Can Contract Farming Help Build Trust and Reduce Transaction Risks?," 99th Seminar, February 8-10, 2006, Bonn, Germany 7726, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    3. Tschirley, David L. & Jayne, T.S., 2010. "Exploring the Logic Behind Southern Africa's Food Crises," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 76-87, January.
    4. Mohajan, Haradhan, 2014. "Food and Nutrition Scenario of Kenya," MPRA Paper 56218, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 23 May 2014.
    5. Haggblade, Steven & Nielson, Hunter & Govereh, Jones & Dorosh, Paul A., 2008. "Potential Consequences of Intra-Regional Trade in Short-Term Food Security Crises in Southeastern Africa," Food Security Collaborative Working Papers 55376, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
    6. Mason, Nicole M. & Jayne, T.S. & Chapoto, Antony & Donovan, Cynthia, 2011. "Putting the 2007/2008 global food crisis in longer-term perspective: Trends in staple food affordability in urban Zambia and Kenya," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 350-367, June.
    7. Ariga, Joshua & Jayne, Thomas S. & Njukia, Stephen, 2010. "Staple food prices in Kenya," Food Security Collaborative Working Papers 58559, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
    8. World Bank, 2005. "Managing Food Price Risks and Instability in an Environment of Market Liberalization," World Bank Other Operational Studies 8264, The World Bank.
    9. Jayne, T.S. & Mather, David & Mghenyi, Elliot, 2010. "Principal Challenges Confronting Smallholder Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(10), pages 1384-1398, October.
    10. Traub, Lulama Ndibongo & Jayne, Thomas S., 2006. "Opportunities to Improve Household Food Security Through Promoting Informal Maize Marketing Channels: Experience from Eastern Cape Province, South Africa," Food Security International Development Working Papers 54568, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
    11. Mohajan, Haradhan, 2013. "Poverty and economic development of Kenya," MPRA Paper 51072, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 06 Jul 2013.
    12. World Bank, 2008. "Regional Trade in Food Staples : Prospects for Stimulating Agricultural Growth and Moderation Food Security Crises in Eastern and Southern Africa," World Bank Other Operational Studies 7829, The World Bank.

    More about this item


    Agricultural and Food Policy; Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety;

    JEL classification:

    • Q18 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Policy; Food Policy


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