CHICAGO, Dec. 10, 2014 -- The American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) is planning a three-year consumer campaign to educate people about the value of the seed industry. 

“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,” John Schoenecker, ASTA board chairman, said in a press release. ASTA has more than 700 member companies involved in seed production, distribution and plant breeding.

During the CSS 2014 & Seed Expo in Chicago, ASTA CEO Andy Lavigne unveiled results of a consumer survey that will help shape the campaign, which will be launched in June during ASTA’s annual convention. 

The survey—intended to measure consumer awareness about the role seed innovation plays in improving quality of life—found that consumers generally don’t recognize seed as helpful in dealing with some of the world’s most challenging issues, like hunger, environmental stewardship, energy security or improved health.

ASTA surveyed more than 600 people from three consumer segmentsmillennials, moms and “foodies”— by phone and online, over a six-day period in November.

These three “influencer” groups have substantial purchasing power and often shape dialogue online and within social circles, ASTA explained. 


Survey results revealed that the work of the seed industry is generally undervalued among educated consumers, yet three in four in that same grouping believe that the role of technology in agriculture is important.

“Therefore, research results reveal a distinct disconnect between respondents’ view of seed and its connection to technology,” according to ASTA. 

The same groups in the survey were provided additional information about benefits of seed improvement. Specifically, the respondents were provided examples of seed improvements in areas of food, feed, fuel and fiber.

The research found total positive impressions among each influencer group improved after additional information. Positive impressions increased by 18 percent among millennials, by 13 percent among moms and by 16 percent among foodies.

“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,” LaVigne said. “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.”

The launching of the consumer campaign is one of ASTA’s three major goals for 2015. They also include increasing grassroots efforts to influence legislators in Congress as well as boosting its ambassador program that recruits agricultural science students into the industry, Lavigne said.



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