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Consumption of edible flowers in South Africa: nutritional benefits, stakeholders’ views, policy and practice implications

Pieterse, E., Millan, E. ORCID: and Schonfeldt, H. (2023) Consumption of edible flowers in South Africa: nutritional benefits, stakeholders’ views, policy and practice implications. British Food Journal, 125 (6). pp. 2099-2122. ISSN 0007-070X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1108/BFJ-10-2021-1091


Purpose: Edible flowers have traditionally been consumed for their nutritional and medicinal properties. Aponogeton distachyos is an aquatic flowering plant native to the Western Cape of South Africa (SA) that used to be a wild plant gathered during the winter months, but it is now considered to be underutilised and endangered. Our study aims at gaining insights from different stakeholders into the activities across the plant value chain and their impact on the consumption of Aponogeton distachyos. Design/methodology/approach: The study methodology involved the identification of different stakeholders in the plant value chain and conducting qualitative in-depth interviews during the data collection. Twelve study participants were selected via purposive sampling and interviewed using semi-structured interviews (face-to-face, telephone, and online). Findings: Nostalgic connection of the flower with local culture and heritage and its unique taste and flavour are key consumption drivers. Promotional and educational efforts by food advocates and at public events help raise consumer awareness, which is generally lacking. Limited geographic and seasonal availability, perishability, price, and quality issues emerged, together with low awareness, as main barriers to more frequent and geographically spread consumption. Originality: Although wild edible flowers have been consumed for centuries, there has been little attention to their nutritional value and journey to their final consumers. The present study identifies important challenges emanating at different stages of the food value chain to consumption of one particular neglected and underutilised plant, with certain implications for people’s dietary quality, environmental sustainability, and biodiversity of natural resources beyond Aponogeton distachyos and SA.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of Agri-Food Economics & Marketing
ID Code:107987
Uncontrolled Keywords:Edible flowers; Neglected underutilised species (NUS); Consumer behaviour; Value chain approach; In-depth interviews with stakeholders; Nutritional value


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