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The majority of Iowa grocery shoppers regularly eat pork, beef, turkey, chicken, eggs and dairy and don't believe marketers of imitation products should be able to use the words “milk” or “meat” on their labels, according to the latest Iowa Farm Bureau Food and Farm Index®.

In fact, the index found that only a minority of Iowa grocery shoppers say they would even purchase these types of fake milk or meat products.

The annual survey, conducted online by The Harris Poll among 508 Iowans ages 20 to 60 with grocery shopping responsibilities, shows which choices and issues are motivating them to make their food purchase decisions. 

The Iowa Farm Bureau Food and Farm Index® shows more than 8 in 10 (82 percent) Iowa grocery shoppers pay attention to labels. Nearly 7 in 10 (69 percent) don't agree that plant-based and lab-grown meat substitutes should be allowed to use “meat” on their labels. And only 3 in 10 (31 percent) would be likely to buy imitation meat, even if it was readily available. 

Nearly 6 in 10 (57 percent) also don’t agree that plant-based milk substitutes should be allowed to use “milk” on their labels, and fewer than one-half (47 percent) would buy almond milk or other dairy substitutes. That percentage goes down even more once grocery shoppers learn more about milk substitutes, with just 2 in 5 (41 percent) favoring almond milk or other substitutes instead of dairy milk.

Last month, delegates at the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation summer policy conference passed a resolution that the terms meat, milk and eggs should only be used for food that comes from animals. Farm Bureau members, delegates said, feel strongly that food labels should be factual and not misleading to consumers.

The 2018 Iowa Farm Bureau Food and Farm Index® once again shows Iowa grocery shoppers continue to like their meat, milk and eggs. In fact, more than 9 in 10 (95 percent) say their households eat meat at least weekly. More than 8 in 10 eat beef (88 percent), chicken (84 percent) and eggs (83 percent) at least weekly; 6 in 10 (60 percent) eat pork at least weekly; and more than one-half of Iowa households consume milk daily.  That preference for Iowa meat, milk and eggs has remained consistent over the last four years of the survey.

After learning that the “highest quality proteins” (proteins containing all of the essential amino acids in amounts that humans need) come from meat, eggs and dairy, two-thirds of Iowa grocery shoppers (66 percent) say they are likely to increase their consumption of meat, milk and dairy.

Nutritional benefits
This comes as no surprise to Iowa State University’s Dr. Ruth MacDonald. She said Iowans realize “the nutritional benefits of animal foods (meat, dairy and eggs) are significant for all stages of life. In addition to providing high quality, easily digested proteins, these foods contribute micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) that are well absorbed and not found in high amounts in plant foods. Plant-based alternative foods are typically fortified with additives to raise their nutritional value."