Consumer Perspectives on Regenerative Agriculture

Download the survey results here

Highlights

  • Regenerative agriculture practices aren’t yet familiar to most Americans: Just one in five (19%) of survey takers said they’d heard of regenerative agriculture.
  • Over one in three (36%) survey respondents view foods grown using regenerative agriculture as more nutritious than those grown without those practices.
  • Most Americans are not willing to pay more for products labeled as, “grown using regenerative agriculture”.

The ties among climate change, environmental sustainability, and our food choices are becoming increasingly apparent—and for many, the through-line that connects these concepts is clear. IFIC’s 2021 Food and Health Survey found that 42% of Americans believed that their individual food and beverage choices can have a moderate or significant impact on the environment.

Indeed, farming approaches that aim to mitigate the environmental strain of food production are on the rise. Regenerative agriculture practices, which seek to prioritize soil health as part of crop production, have been used for thousands of years and are currently experiencing a revival as more attention is paid to human society’s impact on the planet. Yet despite its resurgence, less has been known about how familiar the American public is with the concept of regenerative agriculture and its influence on our food and beverage purchases. To fill the gap in consumer perspectives, a recent IFIC survey aimed to assess public perceptions of regenerative agriculture practices.

Key Findings

  • Compared with other food production methods, Americans are less familiar with regenerative agriculture. When asked about their familiarity with different agricultural practices, over half of survey respondents said they had heard of organic farming (59%), crop rotation (55%), and sustainable farming (52%). Far fewer were familiar with terms like soil health (33%) and regenerative agriculture (19%). Among demographic groups, people with college degrees and those earning more than $80,000 per year were more likely to say they had heard of regenerative agriculture.
  • Regenerative agriculture practices are commonly viewed as having a more positive impact on land than on human health. Following the question gauging their familiarity with the term, all survey takers were provided a definition for regenerative agriculture practices—“farming that aims to restore and maintain optimal levels of nutrients and microorganisms in the soil”—that helped them respond to the remaining survey questions. When respondents were asked which agricultural and consumption practices have the most beneficial impact on the land their food is grown on, environmentally sustainable farming rose to the top (40% included it in their top-two choices), followed by choosing foods and beverages made without the use of pesticides (34%) and choosing products made with regenerative agriculture practices (30%).

When asked about which agricultural and consumption practices have the most beneficial impact on human health, the most common survey response was choosing foods and beverages made without the use of pesticides (45% of respondents included in their top-two choices). In addition, one in five (20%) said choosing products made with regenerative agriculture was in their top-two most beneficial agricultural practices for human health, in line with the number who opted for choosing foods labeled as “organic” (20%) and slightly below those who considered choosing “non-GMO” products to be most beneficial (25%).

  • Foods grown using regenerative agriculture practices are viewed as more nutritious by many, but there is also some uncertainty. When asked to compare the nutritional content of foods grown with regenerative agriculture practices to those grown without them, over one-third of survey respondents (36%) said that foods grown with regenerative agriculture are more nutritious. Over one in five (23%) said there is no difference in the nutritional content, while a considerable number (30%) said they weren’t sure.
  • Most Americans are not willing to pay more for products made with regenerative agriculture. When asked to choose between a standard breakfast cereal and a more expensive version labeled as “grown with regenerative agriculture,” most people (66%) said they would opt for the original, less-costly version.

Methodology

Survey results were derived from online interviews of 1,000 adults conducted from December 2nd to December 6th, 2021, by Lincoln Park Strategies. They were weighted to ensure proportional representation of the U.S. population, with a margin of error of ±3.1 points at the 95% confidence level.