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Poor Kenyans eat more fish as rich prefer meat

By Dominic Omondi | May 24th 2019 | 2 min read
By Dominic Omondi | May 24th 2019
Ugali and Omena delicacy affected by overpricing of flour in shops and wholesales in Kibera from the government subsidised price of 80 shillings to 100 shillings and 110 shillings.

Despite complaints of fish being expensive, a new study has found that the delicacy is more popular than meat among the poor.

A new study on the consumption patterns of meat in Kenya by Kenya Markets Trust, a non-governmental organisation, found that it is the rich and middle-income Kenyans who eat more meat.

Conversely, those from low-income households prefer fish as it can come in “manageable portions.”

“Consumers in the low-income segment prefer fish because of the ability to buy cheap portions and products like omena and fish remains that can be stretched to feed more people than the smallest units of red meat,” said the report in part.

Also known as the Lake Victoria sardine, omena are small oily fish that are found in Lake Victoria.

According to report titled “A study on meat end market trends in Kenya”, among the low-income segment, the market share for red meat is 34 per cent of the total meat consumed, coming second after fish which takes 51 per cent.

The study, which found that consumption of meat increases with income, estimated consumption of red meat - beef, mutton and goat - at 43 per cent among the wealthy. This is followed by fish at 29 per cent.  

Of the total meat consumed by those in the middle income, red meat takes about half of the total meat consumed followed by fish which takes 28 per cent of the total meat consumed.

The study was conducted in 13 counties - Eldoret, Nakuru, Kajiado, Kakamega, Makueni, Machackos and Garissa.

Others counties that were Kiambu, Kwale, Kilifi, Kwale, Nairobi and Nyanza.

Cereals remain the main supplier of calories to a majority of Kenyans  despite their share dropping from 52.5 per cent in 2009 to 45 per cent last year, according to the latest Economic Survey by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).

Interestingly, the deficit in the consumption of cereals such as maize, wheat and rice has not been plugged by a proportionate increase in meat consumption.

If anything, KNBS noted, the share of meat consumed by Kenyans dropped from five per cent in 2009 to 4.2 per cent last year. However, the share of milk consumed over this period surged from 1.7 per cent to 7.4 per cent.

Kenya Markets Trust, meanwhile, found that on average, a Kenyan eats 15kg of meat in a year.

This is compared with a global average of 41.3kg, going by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) figures.

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