BLOOMINGTON,Ill., July 19, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Illinois consumers do value efforts to raise soy using sustainable production practices, says a recent consumer research project from the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) checkoff program. However, the results released today also indicate that consumers typically don't understand what those production practices represent—leaving plenty of room for Illinois farmers to build bridges and engage non-farmers in sustainability dialogues.
"It is important to lead the industry with these research results," says ISA CEO Craig Ratajczyk. "The data offer a way to understand the role the practices of Illinois soybean farmers have in consumers' quality of life."
Key takeaways from the research include:
- Consumers are interested in sustainability and want more information about it
- Three quarters of residents indicate interest in learning more about sustainable farming practices related to soybean production.
- A majority (83%) believes the positives of sustainable farming practices outweigh the negatives.
- Individuals surveyed who were unfamiliar with how food is grown and with sustainable farming displayed even greater shifts in interest about sustainability, indicating that engaging residents on the topic makes them hungry to learn more.
- Consumers have an inaccurate perception of sustainability
- While three quarters are familiar with how food is grown in America today, only half (56%) are familiar with the use of sustainable farming practices, and the majority of those are only somewhat familiar.
- 21% of respondents believe none of the sustainability-related items listed in the survey are actually associated with sustainable soybean production.
- Sustainability could have a stronger value proposition for Illinois consumers
- Respondents said they hadn't previously thought about the impact farms have on soil and waterways.
- After learning more about sustainable soybean production, consumer favorability toward the positives of sustainable farming outweighing the negatives rose by 8%.
- In addition, respondents indicated they value, and place importance on, transparency in production practices.
"The results indicate a clear need to position and promote the value of sustainable soybean production with consumers," adds Ratajczyk. "This study will help equip ISA to host meaningful conversations with members of the supply chain. In addition, we will help farmers make the most of opportunities to positively influence consumer perceptions."
The quantitative research study included online surveys taken by more than 750 Illinois residents representative of age, gender and ethnicity. Research was conducted on behalf of Illinois Soybean Association checkoff programs by Heart+Mind strategies.
Additional survey results are available at http://www.ilsoy.org/sustainability.
The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) represents more than 43,000 soybean farmers in Illinois through the state soybean checkoff and membership efforts. The checkoff funds market development, soybean production and profitability research, promotion, issues management and analysis, communications and education. Membership and advocacy efforts support Illinois soybean farmer interests in local areas, Springfield and Washington, D.C. ISA programs are designed to ensure Illinois soy is the highest quality, most dependable, sustainable and competitive in the global marketplace. For more information, visit www.ilsoy.org.
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SOURCE Illinois Soybean Association