Latest Survey Shows Iowans Pay Attention to Labels, Trust Farmers  

The latest Iowa Farm Bureau Food & Farm Index® shows a whopping 99 percent of Iowa grocery shoppers’ households eat meat and freshness (24%), price (24%) and taste (22%) rank as the most important factors for purchase, more often than how (4%) or where (2%) their meat/poultry was produced. 

The scientific survey, conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF), reached 507 Iowa residents aged 20-60 who have primary or shared responsibility for grocery shopping for their households. The 2017 survey is the sixth installment of the Index, designed to gauge the factors driving Iowa grocery shoppers’ food purchases.

Click the image to view larger Pork—a favorite choice for protein
October is National Pork Month and 96 percent of Iowa grocery shoppers report their households eat pork.  Iowans’ affinity for pork isn’t just welcome news to Iowa farmers—nutrition experts also see pork as a leading source of protein for Iowa families.  “Iowans have several options for protein in their diets today including vegetarian sources, but animal protein continues to be important because it is a high-quality or ‘complete’ protein containing all the essential amino acids,” says Ruth MacDonald, RD PhD, Iowa State University professor and chair of the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. “Pork, for example, contains one of the highest amounts of protein per serving, and also provides needed minerals like selenium, zinc, and iron and vitamins B12, B6, thiamin and niacin. Lean pork is a safe, affordable choice for adding protein to a healthy diet.”

Every year, the survey sheds light on what Iowa grocery shoppers are putting in their carts, as well as the issues and factors that influence their choices. The 2017 Iowa Farm Bureau Food & Farm Index® shows that while 99 percent of these shoppers say their households eat meat, 99 percent reported they eat eggs and 100 percent said they consume dairy. To break it down even more, 96 percent of Iowa grocery shoppers indicated they consume pork, 98 percent consume beef, 98 percent chicken, 97 percent report they eat turkey and 87 percent consume fish.  With so many Iowans eating fish today, it’s no wonder aquaculture is a growing segment of Iowa agriculture.

Click the image to view largerIowans seek information, read labels
The 2017 Iowa Farm Bureau Food and Farm Index® also showed that four out of five (83%) read labels, underscoring their desire for more information about their food.  Roughly a third are looking for labels that show food is “raised/grown/made by Iowa family farmers” (37%), “hormone-free” (33%), or “raised/grown/made in the U.S.” (33%). 

While these Iowans are also concerned about pesticides and insecticides (55%) and have questions about GMOs (38%), a large majority of shoppers (72%) are very or somewhat likely to purchase GMO foods after learning that the World Health Organization and other scientific organizations note that GMO foods require less herbicides and other pesticides to grow. Additional information that influenced them to buy GMO foods include:

  • Producing foods with better nutritional value (77%)
  • Helps feed people around the world (70%)
  • Producing foods that are scientifically proven over 20 years to be as safe as conventional and organic crops (70%)
  • Produces foods with better texture or flavor (65%)

“These results show that Iowans have questions about how their food is grown and raised and why farmers make the choices they make to improve the nutrition and availability of that food. Through our innovations and work to continuously improve what we do, food is safer, more affordable and more nutritious than ever before. Iowa farmers must embrace transparency and be ready to answer questions so consumers have the information and the choices they want at the grocery store,” said IFBF President Craig Hill.

Iowans trust farmers
Overall, 93 percent of Iowa grocery shoppers said they place trust in Iowa farmers, with 57 percent saying they place a “great deal of trust” in them.  “We believe trust is earned and a gift that must not be squandered.  That is why Iowa Farm Bureau and our farmer members understand that consumers have questions, and only by embracing transparency can we bring them the answers they seek about their food and how it was raised or grown.  So, whether it is hosting a farm tour in our community or sponsoring events through our local schools that get at the heart of their questions, farmers today must continue to step up and share their story beyond the farm gate,” said Hill.

The July 24-August 8, 2017 Iowa Farm Bureau Food and Farm Index was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of the IFBF among 507 adults aged 20-60, residing in Iowa who have primary or shared responsibility for household grocery shopping.  For a complete methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Laurie Johns at