WEST DES MOINES – Fewer Iowans are paying attention to food labels when they buy their groceries this year (76%) than last year (82%), according to the latest Iowa Farm Bureau Food and Farm Index®. While Iowans’ interest in labels like “raised organically” (29% in 2015, 19% in 2016) and “raised locally” (40% in 2015, 28% in 2016) yo-yos, taste and price remain the dominant and consistent factors driving both meat and dairy product selections of Iowa grocery shoppers.
The survey also finds that 94% of Iowa grocery shoppers place trust in Iowa farmers, with 66% placing a great deal of trust in them. Nearly 9 in 10 (89%) say they are confident Iowa farmers care for their animals responsibly, and a strong majority of Iowa grocery shoppers, 84%, say they are confident that Iowa farmers care for the environment.
Learning more about farmers only boosts Iowans’ trust. According to the 2014 ‘Iowa Ag Contribution Analysis,’ Iowa is home to 88,637 farms and knowing that nearly 98% of those farms are family owned, makes 75% of grocery shopping Iowans even more trusting of farmers. A strong majority of Iowa grocery shoppers (84%) also say it is important that farmers have the flexibility to use a variety of farming practices to provide the choices and price options they want at the grocery store.
“This is good news, especially in a downturned ag economy, that Iowans are supportive of the many methods and practices Iowa farmers use to grow food and protect the land and livestock. This survey also shows us that despite what some headlines may indicate, Iowans are open to more information about food production so they can make up their own minds about innovation in farming practices. It means we have to continue to share our story, not just explain what we do on the farm, butwhy; Iowans are common-sense people, and like to learn about today’s agriculture,” says IFBF President Craig Hill.
The scientific survey, which reached 505 Iowa residents age 20-60 who have primary or shared responsibility for grocery shopping for their households, is the fifth installment of the Iowa Farm Bureau Food and Farm Index®, conducted online by Harris Poll. The survey is designed to study the factors driving Iowa grocery shoppers’ food purchases.
The new Iowa Farm Bureau Food and Farm Index® also shows that farmers are also a trusted source when it comes to information about food safety and antibiotic use in livestock. Iowa grocery shoppers ranked regulatory agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Association (FDA) most trusted for food safety information (26%), and farmers (19%) ranked second, ahead of medical professionals (12%), friends/family (10%), dietitians/nutritionists (10%) and others.
When it comes to antibiotic use in livestock (as it pertains to the safety of meat), Iowa grocery shoppers trust regulatory agencies most (29%), with farmers ranking second (25%). The survey also found that 81% of Iowa grocery shoppers who expressed concerns about the use of antibiotics in livestock felt relief knowing information such as meat processed in the U.S. and sold to grocery stores and restaurants is routinely tested by USDA and FDA to ensure no antibiotic residue is present; farmers must follow strict FDA rules and regulations when administering antibiotics to livestock, including adhering to specific withdrawal times to ensure that there is no antibiotic residue in meat that enters the food supply; FDA must approve antibiotics for livestock before they can be utilized; and farmers work with their veterinarians to administer antibiotics to treat and prevent sickness.
The Fall 2016 survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of the Iowa Farm Bureau between July 24-August 5, 2016 among 505 U.S. adults age 20-60, residing in Iowa who have primary or shared responsibility for household grocery shopping. The 2015 survey was conducted between November 17-25, 2015, with a similar audience of 507.