Faculty of Economics, Kasetsart University, Bangkok 10900, Thailand


Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.

Sustainability2022, 14(21), 14521; https://doi.org/10.3390/su142114521

Received: 28 September 2022 / Revised: 22 October 2022 / Accepted: 25 October 2022 / Published: 4 November 2022

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The benefits of using homegrown inputs in the production of processed agricultural products have been recognized, for example, in protecting the environment and generating local income. In Thailand, local fresh cassava can replace imported potatoes in the production of chips. However, chips made from local cassava are not widely available on the market. This market access difficulty could be because of insufficient information about consumers’ preferences. This study thus aims to address the factors determining people’s consumption decisions on locally sourced snacks in the case of chips made from Thai cassava. These factors include, for example, price, gender, generation, education, occupation, purchasing frequency, product attributes, nutrition, food safety, and an understanding of cassava chips. The questionnaire used was developed to elicit data related to these factors. The statistical analysis is undertaken by the probit model and marginal effect. The results of three estimated models with 19 independent variables show that the effects of generation and occupation significantly indicate the probability of preferring cassava chips. Having a higher level of education and coming from the northeastern part of the country seem to determine consumers’ preference for local cassava content. Moreover, a better understanding of the related issues implies a higher chance of favoring chips from the local cassava. Those findings would provide useful information for entrepreneurs and government agencies in promoting locally sourced chips, and further develop the higher value of the cassava supply chain.


cassava chips; homegrown inputs; binary analysis; consumers’ preference

1. Introduction

Recently, the promotion of food products made from local produce has acquired the public’s attention as a means of sustainable development through at least two channels. First, using local inputs in the manufacturing of food products can generate income for farmers, create local businesses, and, at the same time, save the country’s foreign currency by substituting imported raw materials. Moreover, it can also help improve the environment by cutting down on international transportation.

Thailand, as an agricultural-abundant country, can practically encourage the use of local inputs in the manufacturing of processed food products. Among the country’s major crops, cassava has a high potential because it can be used as a substitute in the production of chips, one of the most popular snacks, usually made from potatoes. There are two types of cassava. The first variety is mainly used in industrial production owing to its bitter taste, and is normally processed into pellets, starch, glucose syrup, and alcohol, for example. The second one is suitable for direct human consumption, cassava chips included, and has been planted on a large scale in some countries, where the products are commercialized. Several studies have been carried out to study how to further the development of cassava chips, especially in the remote villages of Indonesia and Malaysia, for example, Sutiknjo et al., Khaeruman and Hanafiah, Fitriani et al., Panggabean et al., Amir et al., and Rani et al. [1,2,3,4,5,6]. This simply shows the economic opportunity of cassava chips in this region to generate income for people in rural areas. However, in Thailand, cassava chips are not widely known, nor have they been widely produced and commercialized in the local market. At the same time, to the best of our knowledge, there is no study focusing on the commercial opportunities of these products. Further, the possibility of producing chips from local fresh cassava is visibly rising, as Thai growers, in 2016, successfully improved the cassava varieties. A new breed, the Piroon 4, has a sweeter taste, a softer texture, and reduced splintering, making it more appropriate as a raw material to process into food products [7]. This improvement in the cassava varieties can increase the chance of Thai cassava being processed into a varied type of snack food, especially chips.

As mentioned above, the market for cassava chips in Thailand is small, which consequently suggests production on a local business or small enterprise scale. On the contrary, potato chips, with their much wider market, are produced on a large scale. The price of fresh cassava tubers (THB 2.7–3.5 per kg) is lower than the price of fresh potatoes (THB 12–15 per kg.) by about 4.5 times. However, the price of standard certified cassava chips is about THB 30 per 40 g (or THB 52.50 per 75 g), while that of potato chips is about 29–30 per 75 g. The price difference between the two chips is largely because of the economies of scale in the production of potato chips. This also highlights the potential competition for cassava chips, at least in the Thai market.

More interestingly, the snacks market in Thailand has grown quite consistently, with a 4.55% increase over a three-year average, from 2017–2019. Potato chips take around 32.20% of the market share with a value of THB 11,992 billion (USD 1 = THB 38.12, as of 19 October 2022) in 2019. In terms of the potato chip market, Lay’s, an American brand, manufactured by Frito-Lay Thailand Co., Ltd. (Bangkok, Thailand), accounts for around 75.00% [8]. The size of the chip market and its expansion indicate the opportunity for cassava chips to become a potential alternative to potato chips. Furthermore, this implies a large demand for potatoes, which is not a plant native to Thailand. As a result, a substantial amount of imported potatoes is required. Currently, potato cultivation in the country requires the importation of seed potatoes from Australia, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands, whose value has grown 23.26% over three years, from 2017–2019. Moreover, the amount of fresh potatoes imported is still not sufficient for use within the country, which is, therefore, left to depend on imported fresh and chilled products from other countries, such as Canada, China, and Germany, at an increasing rate of 19.93%. The value of imports of both seed potatoes and fresh and chilled potatoes has risen steadily from about USD 28.03 million in 2017, to USD 31.82 million in 2019. The difficult situation of heavy dependence on imported potatoes results in the elevation of the price of potato-related goods and the unnecessary outflow of foreign currency. This emphasizes the importance of the introduction of local fresh cassava in the manufacturing of snacks, especially chips. It can help decrease the avoidable importation of fresh potatoes. In addition, the replacement of imported potatoes with local cassava can improve the food safety of chips which can contain gluten and a carcinogen, so-called acrylamide, if made from potatoes [9,10].

Acrylamide is a carcinogenic substance that arises from a chemical reaction during the high-temperature processing of potatoes [11]. Potato chips, along with French fries, other potato-based products, cereal-based products, as well as coffee, are among the foods containing a high level of acrylamide [12,13]. Comparing these two types of chips, those from cassava and those from potatoes, it appears that, generally, cassava chips enjoy a lower level of acrylamide formation than potato chips do. Arisseto et al. [14,15] investigated the level of acrylamide contamination in different foods in Brazil. They found that the highest level can be found in potato chips. In contrast, the lowest levels are found in cassava chips. Similar results can also be found in Egypt [16]. In addition, the level of acrylamide in cassava chips can be minimized, if not eliminated, by using the appropriate processing techniques. Fadilah et al. [17] found that longer heating time and higher cooking temperature are more likely to lead to a higher level of Acrylamide formation. They present that the heating time of 15 min and the cooking temperature of 210 °C produce the highest level of acrylamide in cassava chips. However, the most suitable production technique which can result in the best chemical, physical and sensory qualities of cassava chips is frying at 160 °C for 2 min [18]. Another cooking method found to produce the best cassava chips is vacuum frying of blanched cassava at 130 °C [19]. Thus, it is unlikely for acrylamide to be intensively formed during the manufacturing of cassava chips. To a large extent, consumers are less likely to encounter contamination with a massive amount of acrylamide when consuming cassava chips.

All in all, having local content such as fresh cassava in the manufacturing of snack food products can help improve the value added to their supply chain, the country’s international finance position, farmers’ welfare, individuals’ consumption choices, and consumers’ health by lowering the risk of exposure to cancer. Other good means causes supporting locally sourced inputs, especially cassava, can also be promoted. Such causes included, for example, being healthier, being fresh, being more environmentally friendly, and accommodating local farming entrepreneurs [20]. Moreover, promoting locally produced products can be considered home-bias or hometown pride [21].

In spite of the gains from using local inputs, cassava chips are not yet widely manufactured and consumed in the country. Thus, their marketability, especially price determination, can be difficult. Determining the factors affecting consumers’ behavior toward these products should increase the market opportunity for cassava chips. Moreover, the knowledge learned should help to create a sustainable cassava supply chain in Thailand. Cassava chips can be crucial to the country, both as an employment generator and foreign exchange earner, and provide stable ways of life for farmers. What is revealed here could fill the research and market gaps and complete the pathway between different stakeholders on the production front in Thailand’s cassava supply chain from backward through forward linkages. The increased processing of fresh cassava could add value to the produce and improve farmers’ quality of life. This could offer more opportunities for cassava farmers to diversify their sources of income, from such a traditional one as selling their crop to a tapioca starch factory to processing it into chips at the higher market prices. Putting it in a broader picture, this could be healthy for the agricultural sector in general as farmers’ income will be driven more by market-based mechanisms and less reliance on the government’s market intervention schemes such as the Cassava Income Insurance Program.

In terms of forward linkage, with the processing of cassava into chips in place, small local entrepreneurs can take part in this venture, generating more income for the community. At the same time, the manufacturing of chips can switch from using potatoes as raw materials to cassava, depending less on imported inputs, and helping save the country’s foreign currency in the process. On the consumption front, having a clearer idea about individuals’ preference for chips made from local cassava could permit producers to respond better to customers’ demand and attract them to buy more of these products. Consequently, the decrease in consumers’ health risk and increased fresh cassava prices eventually lessen the weight on the government’s related budget. In the long run, promoting cassava chips as a locally sourced product could lead to sustainability in terms of both the Thai people’s quality of life and government stability.

The reasons as to why consumers prefer locally sourced cassava chips can be explained by their consumption and buying behaviors. These behaviors are determined by passion, habit, and individual traits. Investigating consumers’ behaviors often involves looking into personal, emotional, and social factors. These factors can, explicitly and implicitly, affect consumers’ purchase decisions for certain products. Kotler and Keller [22] identify four marketing attributes, namely product, price, place, and promotion, the so-called four Ps, together with economic, political, and cultural factors, as the determinanst of consumers’ decisions. Furthermore, consumers’ consumption and buying decisions have been empirically studied on different occasions. Susilawati et al. [23] study the case of Indonesian consumers’ attitude toward snack buying. Their result shows the factors that, according to the marketing mix approach, can stimulate consumers’ behavior. The factors include product quality, price, brand, service, and warranties.

Nørgaard et al. [24] explore the plans of 600 teenagers, aged between 9 to 16 years old in Denmark, to purchase healthy snacks or not. Concerns about price and health, snack anxiety, peer pressure, social activities, and word of mouth are the potential determinants of their demand for healthy snack products. The causal linkage assessments reveal the dominance of social factors as the determinant of which new snack is favored, while health awareness has a limited and implicit effect on the purchase intent. Meanwhile, Damen et al. [25] find that, despite being in the same nation, geographic differences in maternal discretion arise. Mothers’ consideration for snacks for children aged 2–7 is divided into four main groups relating to different issues: health, children, time, and products. Mothers from Northern Italy seem to be more concerned about health than their southern counterparts. The main theme associated with the product shows that mothers in the South pay more attention to snack brands than those from other regions. These works lead to an open range of investigations on people’s concerns for food safety, standard, and quality before deciding to buy. Shin et al. [26] point out the issues shaping persons’ willingness to pay a higher price for dining at a locally sourced restaurant. This work also studies whether health consciousness and community attachment influence willingness to pay. The findings indicate that they positively affect mindset, subjective norm, and behavior toward visiting a locally sourced restaurant, which eventually motivates a desire to pay extra.

Additionally, Dinushika and De Silva [27] investigate consumers’ features, their consumption preferences, and their beliefs about the chips market. Most of them give importance to the taste and brand of chips. Forty-six percent know about the variety of chip brands on the market. The Wilcoxon label rankings test reveals that product characteristics such as trusted brand names, air tightness, price, good quality, overall consumption, taste and new products are significant. Meanwhile, Kongstad and Giacalone [28] study the importance of labeling and how it can influence consumers’ attitudes toward salt reduction patterns for processed potato products. The results show the significance of clear labeling on consumers’ behavior. Their finding inclines to the work of Dinushika and De Silva [27]. Nevertheless, it was found that promotional programs, wide availability, and attractive appearance of products do not matter to consumers, unlike the results of the work of Susilawati et al. [23]. This leads to inconclusive results, demonstrating the need to conduct further analysis on marketing mix factors.

To measure the preference of consumers for locally sourced cassava chips, the contingent valuation method can be applied by asking surveyed individuals to show their willingness to pay more for chips made from fresh Thai cassava. Numerous works were carried out to analyze the willingness to pay for locally produced products. For instance, Darby et al. [20] identify the reason for buying locally grown products as their freshness and home-bias consumption, and suggest that consumers primarily pay more for the freshness. This study shows a strong foundation for the possibility of a niche market for locally grown product producers. It also finds that consumers are willing to pay a premium price for locally produced foods, and that the size of premium price differs based on socio-economic factors.

Some studies also focus on consumers’ preferences and willingness to pay for specific products produced in communities in the United States. Brown [29] examines consumers’ preferences for locally grown food in Southeast Missouri. The study finds that people pay attention to quality and freshness when buying fresh produce and believe that local produce is of a higher quality and cheaper. Consumers involved in environmental conservation activities have higher education and income levels, and are more willing to pay extra for local products. Individuals whose backgrounds are from the farming sector tend to have a higher willingness to pay for locally produced items. Taking this into account, to market local products efficiently, the issue of quality, freshness, and price competitiveness should be emphasized. A more recent work centers on the effect of knowledge about local products on consumers’ willingness to pay and their views about the quality of one type of broccoli cultivated in California, and two recently developed homegrown varieties. The work shows the importance of having access to information. Without information, respondents rank the look and flavor of the Californian type higher than the two local varieties. However, once the origin of the two broccoli types is revealed, consumers’ evaluation of these varieties increases markedly. The results indicate consumers’ willingness to pay an additional price for local broccoli. They also provide evidence that information about local products positively influences consumers’ willingness to pay and their views on the quality of local foods [30].

Apart from the case of fresh produce discussed earlier, Jensen et al. [31] study the issue of using local inputs in processed food products and find similar results. They examine factors affecting people’s willingness to pay an additional price for locally produced hard apple cider and the price level. They look into various aspects of hard apple cider and consumer characteristics, as well as their relationship with consumers’ behavior. This study finds that consumers are ready to pay an additional price of USD 3.22 for locally produced hard apple cider on top of the USD 6.99 paid for standard products. Such factors as a favor for homegrown goods, suburb expansion, and shopping places can determine the amount of extra price. Furthermore, products’ qualities, for instance, sweetness and dryness, play a role in consumers’ buying decisions. The studies of Brown, Fan et al., and Jensen et al. [29,30,31] indicate consumers’ steady support for food products involved with local inputs through their clear preferences and willingness to pay a higher price.


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