Standing in field next to cattle

Consumers weigh in on Iowa agriculture

August 22, 2022 | Lydia Zerby

Today’s consumers are more aware than ever of how food travels through the supply chain and the impact global and local disruptions can have on inventory and prices. Now two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers continue to adapt to the ever-changing food markets.

“The majority of today’s consumers are two to three generations removed from farm life and may not have an understanding of why farmers do what they do,” says Brent Renner, Iowa Soybean Association at-large director and farmer near Klemme. “It’s important for farmers to understand consumers’ concerns, so they can improve farm practices and food production.”

Through all these fluctuations, consumers still show positive views and perceptions of Iowa agriculture and farming practices. This is evident from the latest Iowa Food & Family Project (Iowa FFP) Consumer Pulse Survey.

The annual survey gauges Iowan’s grocery shopping habits and attitudes toward farmers and agriculture. Year-overyear findings not only give a pulse on perceptions but show how current events shape the behaviors or mindsets of Iowa grocery shoppers.

Renner adds, “Connecting consumers to local farmers is vital to building an understanding and appreciation of the roles both consumers and farmers play within the food system.”

In addition to the standard benchmarking questions, the survey included a series of open-ended questions related to concerns about food, go-to resources for trustworthy information on agriculture and the food industry, and factors that affect food purchasing.

As Iowa FFP prepares to conduct the survey again in late 2022, it’s worthwhile to recap the most recent survey results. The Iowa FFP team is working with its partners to review previous benchmarking questions and identify new questions relevant to timely issues.

The November 2021 survey of Iowa grocery shoppers had 698 responses and 43% were engaged with the Iowa FFP as monthly Fresh Pickings eNewsletter subscribers. Respondents’ age groups, income levels, education levels and geographic regions closely follow the state’s population.

Flynn Wright, an advertising agency in Des Moines, conducted the survey analysis from data collected through a business-to-consumer panel.

A Resource for Consumers

More than 85% of shoppers in 2021 reported being familiar with Iowa FFP with 20% being “very familiar.”

Overall, advocacy of Iowa FFP is strong, as 55% of respondents were very likely to speak positively about Iowa FFP, which has improved since 2020. Iowa FFP subscribers reported the strongest advocacy scores at 64% giving a score of 9 or 10.

When asked about the trustworthiness of Iowa FFP as a source of information, 85% of those familiar with the initiative rated it as “very” or “somewhat” trustworthy.

Iowa FFP invites Iowans to explore how food is grown around the state and meet the farmers who make it happen; 24/7, 365 days a year. The initiative works with a collaborative network of more than 35 food, farming and healthy living organizations who are proud of Iowa’s homegrown foods and hometown values.

The ag awareness initiative reaches more than 140,000 followers each month through its Fresh Pickings magazine, eNewsletter, website (www. and social media channels.

Key Consumer Pulse Survey Insights

Views of Iowa Agriculture

  • In terms of overall satisfaction with Iowa agriculture, 93% of shoppers connected with Iowa FFP are satisfied versus 85% of the general public, an 8% net difference.
  • Iowa FFP subscribers were more likely than non-subscribers to be “very satisfied” with Iowa agriculture, 43% versus 38%, respectively.
  • When asked, “How likely are you to speak positively about the agriculture industry in Iowa,” approximately 53% of Iowa FFP subscribers and 41% of the general population reported being “very likely” (9-10 scores).
  • Over half of respondents strongly agreed agriculture in Iowa is the best in the nation, in addition to trusting Iowa farmers to provide safe, quality food to distributors and communities they serve.
  • 84% of those connected with Iowa FFP strongly or somewhat agree they think about how the food they eat is grown and raised.

Grocery Decision Making Criteria

  • Food quality, price and nutritional value continue to carry the strongest level of importance for grocery decision making. Front of package marketing is the least important criteria.

Perspectives on Iowa Farmer Performance

  • Three-quarters of food-minded consumers give farmers an “excellent” or “good” rating for producing safe foods, contributing to the local economy and raising healthy animals with care.
  • “Excellent” and “good” ratings for farmer performance in protecting our air, soil and water has jumped from 50% to 75% over the past five years.
  • Approximately 84% of Iowa FFP subscribers and 78% of the general population feel that Iowa farmers are on the right track with providing safe foods to Iowa communities.