Survey Says: Consumers Value Transparency, Care About Food Choices

By Lydia Zerby

Today’s consumers value transparency in food labels, marketing and farm and agriculture practices. They want to feel a connection to Iowa agriculture and seek ways agriculture directly impacts their lives. Supporting local is important to consumers, and many find that purchasing directly from farmers or at farmers' markets accomplishes that goal.  

These trends are evident when reviewing the latest Iowa Food & Family Project (Iowa FFP) Consumer Pulse Survey results.

The 2023 Consumer Pulse Study explored consumer trends in grocery shopping, views of our state’s agriculture industry and connections to Iowa FFP. Year-over-year findings not only give a pulse on perceptions but show how current events shape the behaviors or mindsets of Iowa grocery shoppers.

In addition to the standard benchmarking questions, this year’s survey included a series of open-ended questions related to trusted media sources, willingness to advocate for Iowa FFP and evaluating barriers to being more involved with Iowa FFP.

The November 2023 survey of Iowa grocery shoppers had 716 responses and 44% were engaged with 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.

Key Consumer Pulse Survey Insights

Views of Iowa Agriculture

  • 75% of shoppers are satisfied with Iowa agriculture.
  • Iowa FFP subscribers were more likely than non-subscribers to be “very satisfied” with Iowa agriculture, 28% versus 23%, respectively.
  • When asked, “How likely are you to speak positively about the agriculture industry in Iowa,” approximately 44% of Iowa FFP subscribers and 23% of the general population reported being “very likely” (9-10 scores).
  • Most consumers (77%) were favorable toward Iowa farmers’ practices and trust them to provide safe, quality food to distributors and the communities they serve.

Grocery Decision-Making Criteria

  • Price was not only the top-ranked criterion but has also increased in importance over the past year. Approximately 80% of consumers believe it has become more critical than in the past.
  • While chicken and eggs saw net gains in purchasing, beef, pork and turkey saw net declines in recent purchases.
  • Nearly a quarter of the general public believes that the product's brand name has become less important than it once was.

Perspectives on Iowa Farmer Performance

  • Most consumers, among the Iowa FFP subscribers and the general public, were favorable toward Iowa farmers and their practices. Consumers were generally optimistic about the future of Iowa’s ag industry.
  • More than three-quarters of food-minded consumers give farmers an “excellent” or “above average” rating for producing safe foods, contributing to the local economy and raising healthy animals with care.
  • 89% of Iowa FFP subscribers and 66% of the general population say that farming practices are “very relevant” or “somewhat relevant” to their personal lives.

A Resource for Iowa Consumers

More than 43% of shoppers in 2023 reported being familiar with Iowa FFP, with 18% being “very familiar.”

Overall, advocacy of Iowa FFP is strong, as 45% of respondents were very likely to speak positively about Iowa FFP. Iowa FFP subscribers reported the strongest advocacy scores at 61%, giving a score of 9 or 10.

When asked about the trustworthiness of Iowa FFP as a source of information, 83% 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 proud of Iowa’s homegrown foods and hometown values.

The agriculture awareness initiative reaches more than 148,000 monthly followers through its Fresh Pickings magazine, eNewsletter, website and social media channels.