The American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) unveiled results of research commissioned by the seed industry revealing that consumers underappreciate the role of seed and seed improvement in our lives, until they are presented with specific examples of the environmental, economic and health benefits of seed. ASTA briefed members of the media during its CSS 2014 & Seed Expo in Chicago, the largest seed industry conference in the country, attracting professionals from more than 150 companies and more than 20 countries.

ASTA surveyed more than 600 moms, millennials and “food-focused” people – three consumer segments who are recognized for driving conversation around food issues and who have significant purchasing power – to measure consumer awareness regarding the role seed innovation plays in improving quality of life.

“The agricultural industry recognizes the significance of seed innovations and that many of the things that improve our quality of life can be traced back to a seed,” said ASTA President and CEO Andy LaVigne. “But, when we reach beyond the industry, we realize we have work to do in educating people about the value of seed and seed improvement.”

According to LaVigne, research results revealed that the work of the seed industry is generally undervalued among educated consumers. Yet three in four educated consumers believe that the role of technology in agriculture is important.

However, LaVigne shared that when the same groups were provided additional information regarding the specific benefits of seed improvement, they began to show appreciation and a greater understanding of the impact of seed innovation. Specifically, survey respondents were provided examples of seed improvements in areas of food, feed, fuel and fiber. Total positive impressions among millennials increased by 18%, total positive impressions among moms increased by 13% and total positive impressions among foodies increased by 16%.

“These results are extremely encouraging,” said LaVigne. “As one of the oldest trade associations in the country, ASTA is uniquely positioned to help educate consumers about seed improvements that are providing solutions for the increasing demands of a growing world. It also gives our organization an opportunity to focus on ‘why’ we do what we do.” ASTA also provided topline results highlighting seed improvements and associated benefits that had the most resonance across the three consumer groups.

  • Seed improvements allow farmers to produce more food from the same land. (76% of overall consumers viewed positively.)
  • Seed improvements result in foods that are healthier and provide better nutrition. (70% of overall consumers viewed positively.)
  • Seed improvements allow family farmers to sustain their way of life for generations to come. (69% of overall consumers viewed positively.)

“To support the good work of our member companies, we are launching a three-year communications effort to reach consumers about the importance of seed improvement,” said John Schoenecker, ASTA Board Chair. “Our hope is to increase awareness among consumers about the diversity of the seed industry, the value of crops and food produced from improved seed and the impact it has on their daily lives now and into the future.”

In conjunction with its new data and educational announcement, ASTA shared a video highlighting how seed is creating better life. ASTA plans to unveil its new communications efforts during its 132nd Annual Convention to be held in Washington, D.C., June 17–20, 2015.