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Aim: This survey was conducted to evaluate Sri Lankans’ awareness and attitudes towards finger millet and preferences towards finger millet-based foods.
Methodology: Pre-tested, self-administrated questionnaires were formulated in the three main languages used in Sri Lanka, namely Sinhala, English and Tamil. The questionnaires consisted of different sections to obtain data on respondents’ socio-demographic characteristics, health and food related lifestyles, attitudes towards finger millet and preferences towards finger millet-based food products. Printed and online forms were distributed covering all 25 districts from August to November in 2017 and after excluding incomplete responses 1016 respondents were selected for the study. Data were analyzed using Frequency analysis and Chi-square analysis.
Results: Although the majority of the respondents (57.5%) were aware of the nutritional value of finger millet, a considerable percentage of the respondents have stated that they are not aware of the nutritional value. The majority of the respondents who were suffering from non-communicable diseases rarely added finger millet to their diets. The majority of the respondents (66.6%) liked to consume finger millet regardless of gender, age, educational level and residing district. However, limited availability of finger millet flour incorporated food products in ready-to-eat form has restricted their regular finger millet consumption. Only 33.9% of the respondents were aware of the finger millet flour incorporated food products currently available in the local market. The majority of the respondents wished to purchase finger millet flour incorporated novel ready-to-eat products to increase their finger millet consumption.
Conclusion: The findings evidently indicated the importance of educating the general public on nutritional value and various health benefits of finger millet. Further, the findings revealed the necessity of effective advertising and promoting approaches for the finger millet flour incorporated products currently available in the local market and reflected market opportunities for novel finger millet flour incorporated ready-to-eat products.
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