Consumer survey shows continued confidence in Iowa agriculture
Guest blog by Kelly Visser, Iowa Soybean Association consumer engagement manager
Each year, you likely find yourself in a cold, brightly lit doctor’s office for a routine checkup. While it may not be your favorite event on the calendar, it’s important to regularly measure vitals, ask questions and keep a close pulse on any changes in your health.
Similarly, the Iowa Food & Family Project (Iowa FFP) conducts an annual Consumer Pulse Survey among food purchasers in the state. Now in its seventh year, the survey gauges food purchasing habits, measuring label influence and attitudes toward farming.
Year-over-year survey findings drive the Iowa Soybean Association’s (ISA) consumer engagement strategy, including Iowa FFP’s programming and content development.
When it comes to food labels, this year’s survey found eight in 10 food purchasers find food labels misleading. This, along with 55 percent reporting attributes like “organic” or “all natural” have little to no influence on their purchasing decisions, showing Iowa consumers may be growing numb to the product packaging in their cart.
“It appears that shoppers are becoming increasingly indifferent to the flashy label claims food marketers are using, especially those that are rooted in misinformation,” says Aaron Putze, ISA director of communications and external relations. “Twenty-two percent said they don’t seek out information on food labels at all.”
When it comes to attitudes toward farming, the survey found that more than half of Iowans frequently think about how their food was grown and raised, 65 percent reporting being knowledgeable about agriculture and 83 percent report being satisfied with Iowa agriculture.
For Randy Miller, a soybean, corn and pig farmer from Lacona who works closely with Iowa FFP, the findings are encouraging. “So often we only hear the loudest, most negative voices,” Miller says. “The reality is — when we share information about what farmers are doing and how they are doing it — perceptions are positive.”
Miller sees Iowa FFP as a valuable initiative that farmers can leverage to connect with consumers.
“As farmers, it’s on us to get out and share our stories. It makes a difference in consumer attitudes. We need to tap into the Iowa FFP network to continue building two-way conversations between farmers and consumers,” he says.
Iowa FFP subscribers were significantly more likely than non-subscribers to be “very satisfied” with Iowa agriculture, 47 v. 36 percent, respectively. The ag awareness initiative reaches nearly 120,000 followers each month through its newsletter, website and social media channels. This is roughly equivalent to the combined populations of Altoona, Cedar Falls and Dubuque.
The November 2018 survey had 676 responses – the most in the survey’s history – 295 were engaged with Iowa FFP as monthly newsletter subscribers. Respondents’ age groups, income levels, education levels, and geographic regions closely follow the state’s population, resulting in a low margin of error of 3.79 percent.
Blue Compass, a digital marketing agency in West Des Moines, conducted the survey analysis from data collected through Research Now’s business-to-consumer panel.
For additional survey highlights, visit iowafoodandfamily.com/news/food-label-fatigue.
About the Iowa Food & Family Project
The Iowa Food & Family Project is powered by nearly 35 partners, including Latham Hi-Tech Seeds, with a goal to help Iowans become more confident about how and where their food is grown. For more information, visit iowafoodandfamily.com.
Easy Pasta Bake
8 ounces wide egg noodles
1 tablespoon dried onion
1 bag (10 ounces) frozen shelled edamame
2 cups diced ham
2 cups shredded Mozzarella, divided
1 cup light sour cream
1 can (10.5 ounces) cream of celery condensed soup
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick spray. Cook the noodles with the dried onion according to package directions, adding the edamame to the pot in the last 3 minutes of cooking; drain.
In a large bowl, combine the noodle mixture with the ham, 1 cup Mozzarella, sour cream and soup. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and bake for 20 minutes.
Combine the remaining 1 cup cheese with the bread crumbs and Italian seasoning. Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the noodles, return the pan to the oven and bake until the topping is golden and crisp and noodles are bubbly, about 10 minutes.
Recipe from Sara Ross, a farmer from Pottawattamie County, and the Iowa Food & Family Project.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes