A sensory evaluation study was carried out to answer the question: "Are pond raised fish inferior to wild fish?" Lake Malawi Chambo - Tilapia (Oreochromis karongae) and Shire River Tilapia (Oreochromis shiranus) were processed into various products. Panelists evaluated preferences of the fish based on four sensory attributes namely: flavour, smell, taste and texture using a blind sample scoring. Results demonstrated that consumers were indifferent in their preference for fish from the wild and pond raised (P>0.05) suggesting that processed fish from both sources are equally liked. Acceptability of wild and pond raised O. karongae increased for processed products (P<0.05) while processed O. shiranus was liked indifferently irrespective of source (P>0.05). The study concludes that the disparity that consumers have regarding preference between wild and pond raised tilapia could merely be subjective, and hence, rejecting the hypothesis that pond raised fish are inferior to wild fish. A further observation is that presenting pond raised fish in a processed form could help in removing consumer bias consistent with sensory acceptability of food thereby improving its marketability and consequently, profitability. Processing also aids in value adding to realize more economic and nutritional benefits from fish. Findings from this study could be useful in planning and designing efficient marketing strategies for promotion of farmed fish.
Key words: Oreochromis karongae, Oreochromis shiranus, consumer behavior, fish presentation, unprocessed fish.
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