iffp_logoA survey finds a rising number of Iowans believe food labels are beneficial, but their confidence is falling in the trustworthiness of what some labels actually say.

Aaron is spokesman for the Iowa Food and Family Project, which conducted the survey. “While the percentage of Iowans who find food labels helpful increased dramatically over the past year,” Putze says, “they also expressed increased skepticism about some of the claims made on those labels.”

The survey found consumers prefer both the quality and quantity of information when they are making a food purchase. Putze says his organization wants to make certain consumers get the right information. He says, “We place an emphasis on creating opportunities for people to meet and become better acquainted with the people who grow their food so they can have real conversations that directly address the questions they have about the quality and the wholesomeness of that food.”

The survey found a majority of Iowa consumers like it when the word “local” is used on food packaging. “Sixty-two percent of those we surveyed believe food labeled ‘local’ is better than food not labeled local,” Putze says. “The interesting point behind that, however, is that we could not come across a standard definition of how people would define what local is.”

To some people, “local” means in their immediate area, but to others, it means within Iowa, within 200 to 500 miles, or even within the United States. Some producers go to great lengths and expense to become organic-certified facilities, but Putze says terms like organic, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, or even Genetically Modified Organism-free aren’t big sellers.

“The organic and the GMO labels rank towards the bottom in terms of whether or not people believed those foods with those labels are better than foods not labeled,” Putze says. “For example, only 25% of respondents believed that food labeled ‘organic’ is better than food not labeled organic.” He says 22-percent of Iowans surveyed thought “non-G-M-O” products were better than those that weren’t labeled as such.

The Iowa Food and Family Project is a subdivision of the Iowa Soybean Association. Learn more about the survey results at: www.iowafoodandfamily.com.

(Reporting by Morrice, KLEM, Le Mars)