WEST DES MOINES, IOWA - January 10, 2014 - When it comes to meat, poultry and dairy products, "price" and "taste" drive most purchasing decisions of Iowa grocery shoppers, according to new research from the Iowa Farm Bureau Food and Farm IndexSM, conducted online by Harris Interactive® in November and December of 2013. Nearly 8 in 10 Iowa grocery shoppers cited price (79% for meat/poultry; 80% for dairy) and taste (76% for meat/poultry; 77% for dairy) among the most important factors to them when buying meat, poultry and dairy products. That finding on price was consistent, even among higher income Iowa grocery shoppers (those who make $75,000 or more).
The next most important considerations for Iowa grocery shoppers are "food safety" (39% for meat/poultry; 40% for dairy) and "nutrition" (41% for meat/poultry; 37% for dairy).
The Iowa Farm Bureau Food & Farm IndexSM surveys Iowa residents between 20 and 60 years old who have primary or shared responsibility for household grocery shopping; 502 such respondents were interviewed for this wave of research. It is the first in a semi-annual survey of Iowans to study the factors driving their food purchases.
Iowa grocery shoppers read labels
While the survey points to the common sense food priorities of Iowa shoppers, it also shows they're hungry for more information about how or where their food is grown or raised. About two-thirds of Iowa grocery shoppers (68%) pay attention to such labels on their food. Among those who do, the highest percentages say labels indicating that the food was raised in the U.S. (50%) give them the information they are seeking, followed by raised locally (43%), hormone free (36%) or antibiotic free (32%).
"This survey shows us there is an opportunity for farmers to share how they raise farm animals
or use antibiotics to protect the animals' health and that's an important issue because here in Iowa, where we lead the nation in several types of meat production, there are too many Iowans who don't understand the 'big picture' of antibiotic use on the farm," said Dr. Scott Hurd, DVM, PhD and Associate Professor, Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine.
Hurd, who served as Deputy Undersecretary for Food Safety at the USDA in 2008, directing all federal meat and poultry inspection, says advances in feed, housing and veterinary medicine guide the care of all food chain animals and by law, there are strict withdrawal guidelines. "That means no animals are on antibiotics when they go into the food chain, so there are zero antibiotics in meat. Furthermore, Iowa farmers are also subject to standards of care on the farm which require regular supervision, ongoing research and certification programs to make sure animals raised in Iowa are kept safe, well-fed and pain-free," he said.
Farmers agree the Iowa Farm Bureau Food and Farm IndexSM shows a need for conversations to continue with consumers. "This shows us that Iowans believe their food is safe, but they want information about their food, so this is an opportunity for all farmers to connect with them and clarify a few things. Since many Iowa shoppers pay attention to labels that claim the food is 'raised hormone free', they need to know that all foods come from living organisms and all living organisms have hormones. In fact, science has long documented (http://www.usmef.org/growth-hormones-in-cattle/) that meat or dairy products have a fraction of the amount of hormones that cabbage contains. This is an opportunity for critical food safety dialogue," said Craig Hill, Iowa livestock farmer and president of IFBF.
Farmers more trusted than doctors regarding food safety questions (Click here for Infographic)
The Iowa Farm Bureau Food and Farm IndexSM also showed that when it comes to the most trusted sources about food safety information, farmers (26%) ranked higher than dietitians/nutritionists (16%), medical professionals (11%), the government (7%), food companies (5%) or chefs/cooks (2%).
Additionally, 50 percent of Iowa grocery shoppers ranked farmers in their top three - the highest
percentage for this status - followed by dietitians/nutritionists (46%).
Harris Interactive conducted the survey online on behalf of the Iowa Farm Bureau, within the United States from November 21-December 2, 2013. A total of 502 Iowa residents aged 20-60 were surveyed, who have primary or shared responsibility for grocery shopping for their household. For a complete methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Laurie Johns at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading market research firms, leveraging research, technology and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll, Harris offers proprietary solutions in the areas of market and customer insight, corporate brand and reputation strategy and marketing, advertising, public relations and communications research across a wide range of industries. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.
For more information on the Iowa Farm Bureau Food and Farm IndexSM, please visit Iowa Farm Bureau at www.iowafarmbureau.com.
About Iowa Farm Bureau
The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation is a grassroots, statewide organization dedicated to enhancing the People, Progress and Pride of Iowa. More than 153,000 families in Iowa are Farm Bureau members, working together to achieve farm and rural prosperity. For more information about Farm Bureau and agriculture, visit the online media center at www.iowafarmbureau.com.