While significantly more U.S. consumers trust farmers and ranchers, they are still reading labels, searching for local food, and trying to maintain a “clean” diet. The U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance Board of Directors recently gathered in St. Louis where they presented the 2017 Consumer Perception research insights.
According to the USFRA’s 2017 Consumer Perception Research, 34 percent of Americans strongly trust farmers and ranchers, a significant increase from 24 percent in 2015. Additionally, nearly half of consumers say that U.S. farmers and ranchers are heading the right direction with how food is grown and raised.
Top five insights from the research include:
- Increased confidence of today’s farmers and ranchers – Trust in farmers and ranchers has grown over the past three years. In 2017, 44 percent of consumers feel that U.S. farmers and ranchers are heading in the right direction compared to 33 percent in 2014.
- More consumers are seeking “clean” diet alternatives from traditional meat and dairy production — Consumers say they intend to cut back on beef, pork, and dairy products in 2018 and look to alternatives (i.e. nut-based milk, plant-based protein) they perceive to be part of a “clean” diet.
- Interest in locally-sourced foods is increasing – Consumers more strongly trust local farming than they do organic, natural, or conventional farming.
- Americans continue to carefully consider labels when making food purchases – In 2017, nearly 75 percent of consumers say they either “always” or “often” read product labels in the grocery store. Of all the product labels, Americans are primarily on the lookout for “hormone-free” and “no-antibiotics,” which are major drivers of purchase.
- More Americans are cautiously optimistic about the treatment of food animals – Americans tend to feel that animals are well cared for, though the majority still express concerns. In 2017, 52 percent of consumers believed that animals were well cared for on farms compared to 43 percent in 2016.
At the Board Meeting, the USFRA Board elected its newest member, Cameron Gibson, a Virginia crop farmer.
“It is an honor to represent the United Soybean Board on the USFRA Board,” Gibson said. “I hope to help enlighten food influencers and end users about the value, sustainability, and usefulness not only of our U.S. soybean crop, but also for other farming and ranching practices.”
Gibson joins USFRA’s 17-member Board of Directors and looks forward to collaborating in all areas of agriculture to better our industry.
USFRA also highlighted its new app, engAGe, which aims to activate farmer and rancher voices on digital and social media platforms. To continue to build consumer trust in American farmers and ranchers, it’s crucial that all agriculturalists practice transparency on their farms and ranches and share their story online. engAGe’s ability to provide resources and simplify social media, while scouting a field, walking the barn, or even sitting behind a desk, has resonated with the agriculture community, as the app has garnered nearly 500 users.