Now more than ever, consumers are looking closely at their food labels. In fact, a United Soybean Board study examining attitudes around plant-based eating found that 94% of consumers – nearly all of them – say they would like see products include labels that identify specific health claims, ingredients, and farmer information.
It was also found that 88% of consumers placed top priority on plant-based foods that provide a complete source of protein, like soy protein. This data shows that companies should be encouraged to label and promote soy-based foods “high quality” and “complete” as these claims are key motivators for consumers, says Pam Smith, RDN.
“As a dietitian, my focus has always been on how to create healthy diets by focusing on foods that taste great and have positive attributions,” Smith says. “Soy protein is a complete protein and is one of the only widely available plant-based protein that provides all essential amino acids in appropriate amounts to meet the needs of children and adults. Food made with U.S. grown soy-based ingredients fulfils the growing inclination toward purchasing products labeled as U.S. grown among buyers. This is supported in United Soybean Board research, which found that 62% of consumers would be more likely to buy a product labeled as made with sustainably grown U.S. soy ingredients over one that does not contain this label.”
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, so the fact that current research supports that both soybean oil and soy protein have heart health benefits is an advantage for soy and soy foods that qualify to be labeled as heart healthy.
Consumers make purchasing decisions for a wide variety of reasons and recent USB research showed that heart health was one of the top, as 59% said they are more likely to purchase soybean oil with a heart health claim than without,” Smith explains. In addition to promoting soy’s FDA heart health claims, in the same study it was found that consumers find the fact that soybeans are sustainably grown by U.S. Farmers and that soy protein is a “high quality” and “complete” protein equally impactful as heart health, she adds.
Just under six in ten (59%) of consumers are now aware of the term “sustainable farming,” and the majority of consumers (70%) also view consuming foods produced using methods and practices that contribute to the long-term health of the environment important.
"While it is great to see that there is a clear demand for sustainably grown food, we soybean farmers remain committed to sustainable farming practices because we want to preserve our land for generations to come," explains David Iverson, USB director and soybean farmer from South Dakota (USB Sustainability Target Area coordinator).
“As a farmer, it feels good to know that people appreciate the hard work that goes into growing their food. A recent study found that the vast majority of consumers, 79%, have a very/somewhat positive view of U.S. farmers who grow crops, including soybeans. Consumers were also united in their support for domestic agriculture, with 70% saying it’s somewhat/very important to purchase food made with U.S. grown crops,” Iverson says.
Interestingly enough, over four in ten, or 44% of consumers ages 25-34 say they pay attention to product labels concerning the source of an ingredient and if the ingredient is produced sustainably higher than any other age group. “So, we are really seeing that attentiveness emerges in younger age groups. They are becoming more aware of sustainable crops like soy,” Smith says.