Table 1 gives an overview of the prices that the restaurants, hotels and retailers pay to their suppliers. A distinction is made between products, which are sold as organic and products that are sold as conventional produce. The price differences between conventional and organic products are highlighted in the last column. The exchange rate of 8 December 2017 (i.e. 1 Euro = 121 KSh) is used to calculate the prices in Euro. The data in the table show that organic products are not necessarily sold for higher prices. Even though we did not observe any significant differences in selling prices between organic and conventional vegetables, the low p value of 0.07 for soft lettuce and eggplant, respectively, indicates that the trend goes in the direction of higher supply prices for organic produce.
In addition, interviewees were asked to explain what aquaponics is. None of them were familiar with the concept. Four characteristics of aquaponically produced food products were shown and rated on a seven point Likert scale (from strongly disagree to strongly agree). The results are shown in Table 2.
In the final part of the survey, the interviewees were asked to give their willingness to pay for aquaponically-produced food products in comparison to conventional products. None of the interviewees claimed to be willing to pay less for aquaponically produced food products. Figure 1 presents an overview of the willingness to pay. Regarding the willingness-to-pay objective, after the concept of aquaponics was explained, 70% of the respondents claimed to be willing to pay more for aquaponically produced food products in comparison to conventionally produced food products. Of the interviewees willing to pay more, most were willing to pay between 10% and 25% more.
The quality and seasonality of the products was a recurrent theme during the interviews. For example, an often-mentioned product with quality issues was asparagus. One restaurant owner stated that the asparagus offered on the Kenyan market is excessively thin and therefore asparagus is generally imported. Local cherry tomatoes were also mentioned several times as being of inferior quality. In terms of seasonality, the quality of most products is considered low, which is especially the case for potatoes during the rainy season. Three months after the rainy season, the climate is the driest, which typically leads to much higher domestic supply prices.
Not all the products, which are sold as organic, have an organic certification. In the interviews, negative comments about organic certifications were made. In particular, two interviewed “organic” farms indicated that they stopped using this certification, due to a lack of trust in the certification procedure. Another branch manager of a vegetable store mentioned that it is currently hard to distinguish between conventional and organic products, which is the main reason why they do not sell organic products at all. The manager proposed individual packaging of organic products to ensure that conventional products are not mixed with organic products.