Livestock Research for Rural Development 4 (1) 1992

Citation of this paper

The potential of rabbit meat marketing in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso

Irene M Hoffmann**, Susann Kobling***, C-H Stier* and Chr F Gall*

* Institute for Animal Production in the Tropics and Subtropics, University of Hohenheim,
7000 Stuttgart 70, Germany
** Deutsches Institut für Fernstudien (DIFF) an der Universität Tübingen,
7400 Tübingen, Germany
*** Diedenhofener Straße 3,
3000 Hannover 71, Germany


The demand for rabbit meat was assessed by consumer and breeder interviews in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso between 1985 and 1987. 118 households were interviewed about their household size, daily budget and consumption habits. The average household size was 10.9 persons. Total daily budget was FCFA 776 (FCFA 50 = FF 1) of which FCFA 358 were spent for meat. Poultry ranked highest in meat preference, followed by mutton and beef, corresponding to the social significance of the species. However, due to the limited budget, households mostly bought beef, dried fish or mutton. Consumer demand for rabbit meat was low. Consumers who knew rabbit meat were ready to spend FCFA 1,160 for an animal of about 2 kg liveweight. Those who had never tried rabbit meat would not spend more than FCFA 700 per animal, which equals the price of one chicken.

KEY WORDS: Rabbits, Africa, per capita consumption, preferences, meat, urban households, marketing survey, Burkina Faso.


During 1985 - 1987 a survey was conducted in Burkina Faso to estimate the potential demand of rabbit meat in this country. Consumers were interviewed about their meat preference and actual meat consumption in Bobo-Dioulasso, a city of 230,000 residents in the south-west of Burkina Faso.

Material and methods

Consumers were interviewed between 1985 and 1987 at the daily market in Bobo-Dioulasso (n=27), in private households (n=33) and in rabbit breeder households (n=58) by a standardised questionnaire.

The interviewees were asked about the number of persons eating in the household, daily budget and daily expenditures for meat purchase per household, type of meat eaten daily and at feasts, meat preference and meat consumption.

A "household" was defined according to Fiedler et al (1978): it includes all members (of a family) running the house and/or living and eating together and/or meeting the household costs. Normally it includes a man, his wife(s), their children, children-in-law and grandchildren. In urban areas, a household may also include other relatives as school-children or that do domestic work in the household. For the calculation of the household size no difference was made between adults and children.

The "daily budget" is the amount of money allocated to the housewife. All ingredients of the sauce (meat/fish, vegetables, fruits, oil, spices) as well as other daily expenses (eg: bread) are paid with this money. Staple food (maize and sorghum) which can be stocked is purchased in larger quantities and paid by another budget.

Meat prices were obtained at the main market of Bobo-Dioulasso. As the majority of interviewees did not buy meat according to weight but to volume or heaps (french: 2 "tas", i.e. heaps of lean meat, bones and fat for FCFA 50, 100 and 200 according to size; FCFA 50 = FF 1).

19 beef heaps and 4 mutton heaps, sold for FCFA 100, were sampled during the course of the survey period. The heaps were weighed, their composition by weight of physically separable meat, fat and bone was determined and the unit price of boneless meat was calculated.

Spearman rank correlations were calculated between individual meat preference and meat consumption using the statistical package SAS.

The interviewees were grouped according to religion (Christian / Muslim) and provenance of statement (market / household / rabbit breeder). Not all groups ranked all the meat types. Therefore ranks were weighed by the number of answers, using the following formula which takes into account the number of answers as well as the individual ranking (Anger and Scherer 1969): IW = R x (N-n+1)/n where: IW = weighted rank of type of meat R = mean rank N = number of persons interviewed n = number of answers (for one type of meat).


The average household size was 10.9 persons (Table 1). The daily budget of households was FCFA 776 of which FCFA 358 were spent for meat.


Table 1: Meat consumption in Bobo Dioulasso
Trait Answers(n) Mean SD Minimum Maximum
Size of household 87 10.9 5.99 1 29
Daily budget (FCFA) 36 776.0 624.32 225 3,500
Daily expenses          
for meat (FCFA) 81 358.0 323.85 100 2,000
Daily expenses          
meat/person (FCFA) 79 35.4 24.81 5 128.6
Meat and/or fish con-          
sumption (days/week) 49 6.8 0.85 3 7
Meat consumption          
(days/week) 18 4.1 1.73 2 7
Fish consumption          
(days/week) 15 3.1 1.77 1 7


The 49 households that gave information on their meat and fish consumption were provided with these products on 7 days per week. Households differentiating between meat and fish consumption or only stating one of both, consumed meat (beef or mutton) on 4.1 days per week and fish (mainly dried fish) on 3.1 days per week (Table 1). All but 5 households bought their meat daily on the market. The remaining 5 households stored meat in a refrigerator.


Table 2: Composition of meat heaps sold for FCFA 100 at the meat market in Bobo-Dioulasso
  Beef (n=19) Mutton (n=4)  
Total (g) 209.6 " 45.9 184.3 " 39.1  
Meat (g) 125.8 " 42.4 88.0 " 32.2  
(%) 59.9 47.8  
Fat (g) 29.6 " 35.6 38.0 " 22.4  
(%) 14.1 20.6  
Bones (g) 56.8 " 23.3 58.3 " 7.7  
(%) 27.0 31.6  
FCFA per kg 477.0 543.0  
FCFA per kg lean meat 795.0 1,136.0  


Most households bought meat by the heap; their budget was not sufficient to buy whole units of 1 kg. An average FCFA 100 beef-heap weighed 210 g. It contained about 60% pure meat, 14% fat and 27% bones. The average weight of a FCFA 100 mutton-heap was 184 g. It contained about 48% pure meat (Table 2). Buying the meat by the heap, the customer paid a calculated price of FCFA 477 per kg for beef and FCFA 543 per kg for mutton. The per kg price of pure meat by the heap was FCFA 795 for beef and FCFA 1,136 for mutton (Table 2).

Meat was bought on a weight basis by six households disposing over a daily meat budget exceeding the price of 1 kg, including those five households who could store meat in a refrigerator. Meat prices per kg are given in Table 3.

Table 3: Prices for meat sold on weight basis at the meat market in Bobo-Dioulasso (FCFA per kg)
Type of meat 1985 1986 1987*
Beef boneless 650-800 700-800 750-800
Beef with bones 600-620 500-700 600-700
Mutton with bones 750 750 800
Pork boneless 800 800 800
Rabbit, quality market** 1,500 1,500 1,500
Dried fish*** 1,000-1,500 1,000-1,500 1,000-1,500
Fresh fish 450-900 450-900 450-900

* until april 1987
** fixed price
*** the price of dried and fresh fish varied, depending on species and quality

Of all rabbits produced in Bobo-Dioulasso, 51% were commercialized on the quality market via a rabbit production development project of the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ). These rabbits were sold for a fixed price of FCFA 1,500 per kg carcass weight (Table 3). The project started commercialisation of rabbits in 1982; it set the rabbit price at this level in order to compete with the prices paid by Ivorian merchants who then regularly bought rabbits in Burkina Faso.

On the local market, rabbits were sold in Bobo-Dioulasso during the survey period as whole animals or whole carcasses and not as carcass cuts. A whole animal of about 2 kg liveweight was sold for a minimum price of FCFA 1,250; the usual price was FCFA 1,500.

Prices for poultry (0.6-2.0 kg liveweight) varied between FCFA 650-1,500, depending on liveweight and month (religious festivities) or colour (when used for ceremonies). A large white cock would cost up to FCFA 2,000.

In general, consumers said that buying a heap of meat was advantageous, because for regular customers butchers would add some meat to the displayed heap. Housewives said that this addition varied by quantity and quality according to the meat offer on the market (number and quality of animals slaughtered), moods of the butcher and degree of acquaintance with the client. The weight of the addition of the sampled heaps varied between market days by 6 to 14% of the total weight; also the proportion of meat, fat and bone in the addition varied.

Consumer preference was highest for poultry, followed by mutton, beef and fresh fish (Table 4). Rabbit meat ranked 5th. Rabbit breeders ranked rabbit meat at the 3rd place behind poultry and mutton (Table 4). However, all 118 interviewed persons ranked the frequency of actual meat purchase and consumption in the order of beef, (dried) fish, mutton and pork (Table 5). Pork was mentioned by six Muslims in the preference list, but no Muslim stated to actually buy pork for family consumption.


Table 4: Weighed ranks of stated meat preferences


Place of interview
  Total   Christian Muslim Household Breeder Market
  n rank n rank n rank n rank n rank n rank
Interviews 118   54   62   33   58   27  
Poultry 104 1 51 1 50 3 30 1 57 1 17 3
Mutton 100 2 45 2 52 1 29 2 49 3 22 1
Beef 99 3 45 3 51 2 28 3 50 2 21 2
Fresh fish 84 4 41 4 40 4 25 4 44 5 15 4
Rabbit 77 5 41 6 34 5 24 5 48 4 5 7
Dried fish 58 7 28 7 28 6 24 7 25 7 9 5
Pork 48 6 41 5 6 8 21 6 26 6 1 9
Goat 42 8 23 8 17 7 20 8 20 8 2 8
Equine 6 9 3 9 0 - 3 9 0 - 3 6


Table 5: Weighed ranks of actual meat consumption


Place of interview

  Total   Christian Muslim Household Breeder Market
  n rank n rank n rank n rank n rank n rank
Interviews 118   54   62   33   58   27  
Beef 80 1 30 1 50 1 21 1 37 1 22 1 1
Fish 56 2 23 2 33 2 14 2 29 2 13 2 2
Mutton 37 3 11 3 26 3 9 3 17 3 11 3 3
Pork 5 4 5 4 0 - 3 4 2 4 0 -  


Rankwere not significant (Table 6).

The meat most frequently consumed at festivities was poultry (Table 7), followed by mutton and beef. Pork and fresh fish played a minor part. 12 rabbit breeders stated to consume at feasts rabbits as well as poultry.

Table 6: Spearman-Rank-correlation between stated meat preference and actual meat consumption (answers of all inter-viewers; unweighed ranks)
  Stated meat preference      
Actual consumption Beef Mutton (Dried-)Fish Mean SD  
Beef (n=67) 0.12     1.09 .28  
Mutton (n=35)   0.12   1.27 .51  
(Dried-)Fish (n=24)     -0.11 1.30 .54  
Mean 4.04 3.02 4.98      
SD 1.87 1.51 1.65      


Table 7: Type of meat consumed at feasts (more than one statement possible)
    Religion Place of interview
Meat Total Christian Muslim Household Breeder Market
Interviewees 118 54 62 33 58 27
Poultry n 69 32 37 17 37 15
% 58.5 59.3 59.7 51.5 63.8 55.6
Mutton n 38 9 29 8 20 10
% 32.2 16.7 46.8 24.2 34.5 37.0
Beef n 16 4 12 4 4 8
% 13.6 7.4 19.4 12.1 6.9 29.6
Pork n 11 11 0 4 7 0
% 9.3 20.4 0 12.1 12.1 0
Fish n 7 4 3 2 4 1
% 5.9 7.4 4.8 6.1 6.9 3.7


Rabbits were known as an animal species by 93 of 118 interviewed persons and 58 had already tried rabbit meat (Table 8). However, the persons interviewed in the market-survey were not willing to pay a price for a rabbit (of about 2 kg) exceeding the price of a chicken. The price consumers were ready to pay for one rabbit was FCFA 1,160, on average.


Table 8: Acceptance of rabbits and rabbit meat (more than one statement possible)


Place of interview

Meat Total Christian Muslim Household Breeder Market
Interviewees 118 54 62 33 58 27
Question: Do you know rabbits?    
Answers 98 39 57 28 45 25
"known" 93 39 52 27 45 21
% of answers 95 100 91 96 100 84
Question: Did you ever try rabbit meat?  
Answers 81 34 47 22 36 23
"tried" 58 28 30 15 36 7
% of answers 72 82 64 68 100 30
Question: Maximum price acceptable for a rabbit?  
Answers 62 31 31 18 36 8
Mean price (FCFA) 1,160 1,157 1,162 1,072 1,306 700



The mean household size of 10.9 persons corresponds to the number of 11.1 calculated by Chatelin (1985). The average animal meat consumption per-capita, estimated by the money spent for meat, the frequency of meat purchase, the mean price for beef in the heaps and the number of persons per household was 24.3 kg. Meat consumed at feasts or in honour of guests is not included. This per-capita meat consumption is close to the estimate of 30 kg for the urban population in Burkina Faso (World Bank 1982).

Due to the limited daily budget most of the households buy meat daily, usually by the heap. Josserand and Ariza-Nino (1982) and Herman (1983) also reported a frequent purchase of small meat quantities in West Africa. The composition of heaps found in Bobo-Dioulasso is similar to the findings of Herman (1983).

Beef (with bones and fat) bought by heaps is cheaper than that bought by weight (FCFA 477 vs. FCFA 600-700/kg). The price of boneless meat is similar when bought by heaps or by weight (FCFA 795 vs. FCFA 650-900/kg). Herman (1983) showed that the price calculated on a per kg base increases with the size (price) of the heap. He concluded that butchers demand higher prices for large size heaps because they suppose higher income clients are more likely to buy larger size heaps and their demand for meat is less elastic than that of low-income clients.

The ranking of meat preference coincides with the social significance attached to the animal species. This applies also to the ranking of meat consumed at feasts. The high preference for mutton reflects the high percentage of Muslims (53%) among the persons interviewed. Bobo-Dioulasso, an old commercial town, has a high share of Muslims (traders) (Claessens 1981; Völger et al 1983). Poultry is traditionally consumed by Christians as well as by Muslims.

The actual purchase and consumption of meat does not reflect the stated preference for meat types. This is explained by the constant lack of money. While dried fish and beef are not at the top of the rank they are often purchased because of their comparatively low price. Dried fish costs between FCFA 1,000 and 1,500 per kg, but due to its concentrated flavour a small quantity is sufficient to cook a tasty sauce. Josserand and Ariza-Nino (1982) also report frequent consumption of dried fish in West Africa. Coinciding with our own results, a BMZ-study (1982) indicates that African consumers are more sensitive to meat prices than to meat quality. In West Africa the income elasticity of demand for red meat was estimated as 1.0 by Herman and Makinen (1980) and for beef as 0.5 to 0.6 by Shapiro (1979).

Rabbit breeders rank rabbit meat higher than other groups do; they are also ready to buy rabbits at higher prices. Breeders slaughter their own animals, but would not buy rabbit meat for consumption. Even at feasts they prefer to buy 2 - 3 chicken; while the price of these 2 - 3 chicken equals that of one rabbit the chicken are considered to give more quantity.

The main limiting factor for rabbit meat consumption seems to be its price. The price, set by the GTZ Project in order to compete with the Ivorian merchants on the quality market, obviously influenced the local market's price level. A household's daily budget is not sufficient for buying a whole rabbit, and carcass cuts are not offered. While more money is spent for meat at feasts poultry and mutton are preferred.

Possibly more rabbit meat could be sold in small quantities and at low unit price, but butchers interviewed at the main market showed no interest in dressing rabbit carcasses and offering the meat in heaps as practised with other meat. They consider the market demand is too low.


The potential demand of rabbit meat is low in Burkina Faso. Main limiting factor for increasing consumption is the price. While rabbit was the most expensive meat, it was not valued to the same extent as other meat for complying with social obligations. At present prices, rabbit meat consumption is limited to the affluent consumer; if it is to reach the local African consumer in the long run, its price level should be reduced at least to that of local poultry meat.


This study was supported by the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ) and the "Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes".



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