Production, consumption, and quality attributes of Akpan - a yoghurt-like cereal product from West Africa
Akpan is a high-potential, traditional yoghurt-like product made from fermented cereal starch, and consumed as a thirst-quenching beverage in Benin. This study investigated the characteristics of consumers, the traditional processing techniques and constraints, and the quality attributes of the product in order to find out the best options for possible industrial development. For this purpose, a survey was carried out in different municipalities using a questionnaire administered to stakeholders. While the production and commercialization of Akpan are undertaken exclusively by women, consumption cuts across all classes of people, with consumers in a wide range of socio-cultural groups, ages, and educational levels. Four types of Akpan were encountered, varying in their raw materials and processing technologies. Maize and sorghum were used either singly or in combination through submerged or solid-state fermentation processes. Among the product types, Akpan from maize ogi was the most preferred, mainly because of its long-established history, white colour, sour taste, and pronounced ogi aroma.
Gowe is a sweetish paste of malted, fermented, and cooked sorghum and/or maize flour, consumed in its pure state, but preferentially as a beverage after homogenizing with water, sugar, milk, and ice. A survey was carried out at different localities in the traditional gowe producing areas to investigate the diversity of the processing techniques, consumers’ characteristics, and the quality attributes. Producers and sellers were women exclusively while consumers cut across all classes of age, socio-cultural groups, and educational levels. Gowe varied in cereal and processing techniques, with maize and sorghum being used either singly or in combination (maize/sorghum ratio varying from 1 to 3) through four processes. Apart from the alternative process which leaves out the malting step, gowe processing techniques aim at producing sweetish and acidic tasting products through malting, saccharification, and fermentation. A principal component analysis plot of quality criteria of gowe indicated that the preference of consumers was directly associated with the perceptions of producers.