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News & Media: Staff Columns

Top 5 insights from USFRA consumer perception survey

Monday, November 12, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Lauren Brey, director of marketing and research
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American’s trust in the way farmers and ranchers grow food in the U.S. continues to grow, according to research conducted by U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA).

This is one of five key insights from USFRA's 2017 consumer perception study. It is the fifth consecutive year of this annual benchmark study to measure consumer opinion regarding farming and ranching.

Edge is a partner of USFRA, an organization consisting of more than 100 farmer and rancher organizations and agricultural partners representing virtually all aspects of agriculture, working to engage in dialogue with consumers who have questions about how today’s food is grown and raised.

Over 1,000 consumers and consumer food connectors (CFCs) were surveyed nationwide in December 2017. CFCs are influencers who are passionate about food and speak online about food-related topics.

Following are the top 5 insights that farmers should know:

1. Americans are increasingly confident in the way farmers and ranchers grow food in the U.S. although there is room for growth.

Trust in farmers and ranchers in the U.S. has grown over the past three years, but there is still a long way to go.

Consumers have slightly increased confidence in the way food is being grown and raised today and that it will not result in long-term health issues for themselves or their children.




2. Americans are increasingly looking to "clean" alternatives from traditional meat production.

CFCs will cut back on conventional beef, pork and dairy products and look to alternatives that are perceived to be part of a "clean diet." This means more attention will be placed on how meat is labeled. Also, expect increased consumption of plant-based substitutes for dairy and protein. General consumers follow the same trend to a lesser degree.

3. Americans are questioning the value of organic products and local continues to reign supreme.

Organic is taking a backseat to other food purchase considerations. Trust in organic farming has dropped consistently each year since 2014 and consumers are looking to locally sourced products.

"I don't trust stores/producers that sell organic. I wonder if it is just a hype. I stay with what I have been using," one respondent said.

4. Americans continue to carefully consider labels when making food purchases but little has changed from 2016.

Americans are on the lookout for "hormone-free" and "no antibiotics" labels. These are major drivers of purchases and will continue to trump issues like GMOs and organic.

Claims about animals are at the top of the label list. Attention paid to "hormone-free" and "no antibiotics" labeled products is magnified when animal proteins are specifically mentioned.

5. More Americans are cautiously optimistic about the treatment of food animals in the U.S.

Americans are more likely to feel that animals are well cared for but the majority still express concerns – and these concerns are a topic of conversation with friends and family.

"I feel like since Americans are wanting cleaner, healthier food choices in their meat and produce, farmers and food industry are listening. They are choosing healthier practices in the raising of their crops and animals," one respondent said.

Overall, advocacy of and interest in key agriculture issues has decreased significantly over the last four years. The exceptions are food processing and sugar content.

Consumer faith in farmers and ranchers doing the right thing in regard to sustainability is improving.

Videos and documentaries remain the No. 1 medium for information. Other sources are becoming less trusted.

Other key insights:

There is still a large contingency of people admitting that they "don't know" much or anything about farming and ranching, indicating there is still a "moveable middle" audience.

Many consumers think improvements are being made in agriculture. They appear to have appreciation and receptivity for the value of continuous improvement.

Fear of processed foods is a bigger issue than agriculture topics. Concerns about processed food dominate conversations and concerns.

Agriculture is gaining positive momentum. Through our partnership with USFRA, we will continue to reach consumers with the positive message about agriculture and connect on values to keep moving the needle in the right direction for farmers.

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