• USA Rice Kicks-off Instagram Campaign for Celiac Awareness Month

    by Deborah Willenborg | May 10, 2017
    Finding inspiration online
    Instagram
    ARLINGTON, VA -- With the explosion of visual storytelling on social media, Instagram is taking the lead as a favorite photo- and video-sharing social network among U.S. consumers.  During May, Celiac Awareness Month, USA Rice is teaming up with 14 Instagram influencers to raise awareness of U.S.-grown rice as the go-to grain for gluten-free diets.

    “We are partnering with food, gluten-free, and parent/lifestyle influencers, all with a large and engaged following on Instagram to broaden the audience exposed to our messages,” said Katie Maher, USA Rice director for domestic promotions.  

    Each influencer will create two unique Instagram posts highlighting rice recipes accompanied by one recipe image and one recipe video.  The content will also be amplified through each influencer’s additional social channels including Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

    “Instagram is known for its high engagement rate – 75 percent of Instagram users take an action, such as visiting a website or social page, after seeing a sponsored post,” said Maher.  “Moms, a very large and influential demographic, are consuming much of their content across Instagram and Facebook.”

    The campaign kicked off last week with two recipe postings and one quick recipe video which all included U.S.-grown rice messaging.  Collectively, the two recipe posts generated more than 3,600 likes and 85 comments, and the short video received more than 6,400 views.

    “Stay tuned and follow #ThinkRice on Instagram to stay up to date on the most recent posts from our influencer partners this month,” said Maher.  “And if you have a social media account, be sure to share and repost the recipes and videos to help spread the U.S. rice messages!
  • New Recipe Brochures Inspire Home Chefs to Think Rice

    by Deborah Willenborg | Apr 06, 2017
    Popular, versatile, and so easy to prepare
    New-Recipe-Brochures
    WASHINGTON, DC – This month, USA Rice added two new recipe brochures to the popular collection of consumer recipe brochures regularly requested by members, extension agents, educators, nutrition professionals, and others for promotional purposes at events such as tradeshows, educational programs, county fairs, and other activities.

    “Even in a time when there is growing usage of mobile devices to access recipes, USA Rice still receives countless requests from people wanting hard copies of recipes and preparation information to share with various audiences,” said Katie Maher, USA Rice director of domestic promotion programs.  “While USA Rice regularly promotes recipes on social media and other digital outlets, there is still something important and impactful about being face-to-face with people and placing information directly in their hands.”

    The new brochures incorporate Think Rice branding and feature fresh U.S. rice messaging.  The “Rediscover Rice” brochure echoes the theme from USA Rice’s foodservice advertising campaign, inspiring people to see the many uses of rice beyond the side dish (see “Foodservice Audience Gets the Read on Rice,” USA Rice Daily, February 21, 2017).  The second brochure, “Rice: the Grain to Go With” emphasizes that rice is the go-to grain for delicious meals any time of day.  Each brochure highlights the versatility of rice across meal parts with a breakfast, appetizer, side dish, main dish, and dessert recipe.  

    “To make the most of the recipes we already have while also creating interesting and on-trend brochures, we pulled from a variety of program areas,” said Maher.  “We included a breakfast recipe from last year’s nutrition blogger contest, two recipes from our Canada promotion program, and adapted a few of the foodservice recipes USA Rice created.”

    The brochures include a variety of short, medium, and long grain recipes and also encourage people to try different types of U.S.-grown rice in their favorite recipes.  As Maher reports, “we get many requests saying, ‘I need recipes for brown rice,’ but what a lot of people don’t realize is that more often than not, you can simply substitute brown rice in your favorite recipes.”

    Maher adds, “we’re hoping these new brochures, with their fresh design and unique recipes, will leave a lasting impression on home chefs and inspire them to try new recipes and see all that rice has to offer.”

    Requests for physical copies can be made by emailing USA Rice.
  • USA Rice Debuts Winning Recipe from Healthy Rice Bowl Contest

    by Deborah Willenborg | Mar 28, 2017
    No one's skipping lunch today
    Greek-Rice-Bowl-Recipe-Card
    ARLINGTON, VA -- The award-winning Greek Rice Bowl recipe from the USA Rice “Healthy Rice Bowl Contest” for school menu planners has been announced and joins a growing collection of recipes developed by K-12 menu planners created to help schools meet nutrition requirements, increase rice usage on school menus, and educate students about U.S.-grown rice.

    After receiving more than 100 entries from K-12 foodservice professionals at the School Nutrition Association (SNA) conference this past July, USA Rice awarded the $500 grand prize to School Nutrition Marketing Specialist at Loudoun County Virginia Public Schools, Stefanie Dove, RDN, CDN.  As part of the prize, Dove also served as a consultant in developing her concept into a tested, creditable foodservice recipe.

    “Rice recipes are a wonderful addition to school meals because they provide versatile menu options that hold up well on the serving line,” said Dove.  “Our students love our chicken fajita rice bowls, so I thought this Greek chicken rice bowl would be a great way to tie in new flavors while keeping the ingredients simple so it’s easy for school nutrition employees to prepare.  This recipe contains familiar ingredients that students across the country can feel comfortable selecting for lunch.”

    The new recipe is featured on www.thinkrice.com, where school foodservice professionals can find detailed preparation instructions, serving size guidance according to grade level, and nutritionals per serving all in a convenient downloadable recipe card.  

    At the SNA conference in Atlanta this coming July, USA Rice will distribute the new recipe along with new cafeteria posters currently in production, and partner with the Cranberry Marketing Committee to host a joint cranberry-rice recipe contest.

  • Facebook Contest Encourages Shoppers to Share Favorite U.S.-Grown Rice Recipes

    by Deborah Willenborg | Mar 20, 2017
    Click here to view video on Facebook
    Redners-Facebook-Contest
    ARLINGTON, VA – This month, as part of USA Rice’s partnership with Redner’s Markets, the supermarket chain with 44 stores in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland,shined a spotlight on U.S.-grown rice by launching a Facebook contest asking shoppers to share their favorite rice recipes for a chance to win.  The winner was announced last Saturday, and will receive a rice cooker and Redner’s gift card, courtesy of USA Rice, for her Mexican Rice Bowl recipe submission.

    The Facebook contest was accompanied by a recipe video created by Redner’s registered dietitian Meredith McGrath, where she prepares USA Rice’s Spicy Thai Chicken Salad and demonstrates how rice dishes can be simple, delicious, and versatile.  McGrath also emphasized key messages including that rice is budget-friendly and pairs well with other healthy foods.  The contest and video received 1.4 thousand views, 23 likes, and 25 comments.

    “Recipe videos are extremely popular on social media and a great way to encourage viewers to try new recipes,” said Paul Galvani, USA Rice Retail Subcommittee chairman.  “In less than a minute they see a whole meal come to life!  With younger viewers especially, the shorter the video and the simpler the steps, the more likely they are to love it, try it, and share it.”

    This contest coincides with several other in-store and online U.S.-grown rice promotions at Redner’s Markets in March including recipe sampling events, a feature in the weekly circular and in-store magazine, and end cap displays.  The promotional activities work together with consistent messaging and recipes to inspire shoppers to ‘Think Rice’ while planning nutritious meals for their families.
  • Chef Sara Moulton Learns About Conservation and Rice for Upcoming TV Episode

    by Deborah Willenborg | Mar 03, 2017
    Click here to view the 'behind the scenes' video
    AR-Moulton-Shoot-Around-the-Table
    HUMPHREY, AR – TV celebrity chef Sara Moulton filmed an episode for season six of her series, Sara’s Weeknight Meals, here last week.  Her New York-based production team joined up with technical and culinary crews out of Little Rock to take over 5 Oaks Lodge for the episode.  

    Moulton enlisted the help, and family recipes, of Hickory Ridge, Arkansas, rice farmer Eric Vaught, his wife Kelly, and their three children, Baxley, Sawyer, and Sam.

    “We’re trying to showcase typical family meals on the show,” Moulton said.  “Eric shared his recipe for fried catfish and something they call ‘Rice Puppies,’ his take on hushpuppies.  They were delicious – but I am a sucker for fried food.”

    Vaught took Moulton out into some flooded rice fields and talked with her about the unique relationship between rice and waterfowl, and the common link that is water.

    “Sara knew rice grew in water but was surprised to learn it was only a few inches,” Vaught said. "Without an explanation, it is understandable that someone would see a ‘flooded’ rice field and not realize how little water we actually use."

    Vaught also explained how U.S. rice farmers use technology to require less water today than they did just 15 or 20 years ago.

    “Sara enjoyed hearing about how we use water to create wildlife habitat that is obviously good for the ecosystem, but also helps us prepare the fields for the next year in a way that reduces our environmental footprint,” he added.  “And why wouldn’t she? The conservation record of U.S.-grown rice is a great one.”

    Vaught gave her some pointers for using duck calls, but the pair agreed her cooking was better than her calling.

    The episode will air sometime in the fall of 2017 on PBS stations nationwide and USA Rice Daily will publish the date when it becomes available.
  • USA Rice and Redner’s Markets: HealthCents

    by Deborah Willenborg | Feb 23, 2017
    Get the jump on great nutrition
    Redners-Healthcents
    ARLINGTON, VA -- USA Rice is participating in the HealthCents program at Redner’s Markets, a supermarket chain with 64 stores throughout Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland, to promote U.S.-grown rice during March’s National Nutrition Month.

    During the first promotion, from February 5 through March 19, shoppers will be introduced to the many uses and nutritional benefits of U.S.-grown rice through the dietitian’s in-store and digital magazine, an advertisement in the weekly circular reaching 1.2 million shoppers, social media, in-store recipe sampling events, and end-cap displays highlighting U.S.-grown rice.

    The promotion kicked off this month with a USA Rice feature in Redner’s HealthCents Magazine, a publication written by Redner’s dietitian, which reaches 10,000 shoppers in-store and is available online.  A two-page spread highlights U.S.-grown rice varieties and nutrition information, tips for cooking and preparing rice, as well as USA Rice’s Spicy Thai Chicken Bowl recipe, which will be highlighted in the circular and demoed in-store.

    “We are excited to be working with USA Rice to educate our shoppers on the benefits of locally grown rice,” says Meredith McGrath, corporate dietitian for Redner’s Markets.  “As we saw during our last partnership, our shoppers are very receptive to these messages.  Being able to provide shoppers with delicious recipes that they can also feel good about feeding their families is the goal of our program, and USA Rice is the perfect partner to help us achieve that.”

  • Foodservice Audience Gets the Read on Rice

    by Deborah Willenborg | Feb 21, 2017
    U.S. rice on the front line for foodservice
    Foodservice-Chef-Kimball-Jones
    ARLINGTON, VA -- This past fall, USA Rice participated in the International Foodservice Editorial Council (IFEC) conference that brings together foodservice publications, publicists, and manufacturers to discuss and share ideas for the upcoming calendar year.

    USA Rice met one-on-one with 11 foodservice publication editors to provide them with information about USA Rice foodservice programs, and to help them build editorial content beneficial to the entire U.S. rice industry.

    “Our promotions in these publications, combined with editorial placements where we provide specific content, will definitely increase the visibility of U.S. rice,” said John Hasbrook, USA Rice Foodservice Subcommittee Chairman.  “Participating in this conference lets us see what the foodservice community is looking at, what food trends they’ll be reporting on, and how we can support them with our recipes, photography, and information such as research, trend reports, and operator success stories.”

    For example, an upcoming placement in the March/April edition of Flavor & the Menu, U.S.-grown rice will be featured in a 1/3 page print ad as well as a separate story featuring a USA Rice recipe and food photography for no additional cost.

    “Future editorial opportunities to put the focus on U.S. rice include grains, healthy eating, build-your-own bowls, and ingredient versatility features, among others,” said Hasbrook.  “We know these publications are the go-to sources for chefs when creating new, interesting recipes so we’re there showing the foodservice community how rice can help them innovate their menu and meet the needs of today’s customers.”
  • New Ad Series Encourages Foodservice Audience to 'Rediscover Rice'

    by Deborah Willenborg | Feb 13, 2017
    Rediscover rice!
    USRice_300x250_Ad
    ARLINGTON, VA -- This January, USA Rice launched its new foodservice marketing campaign to reach chefs and foodservice professionals as they read up on trends and search for new menu ideas.  Both print and digital ads will appear regularly throughout the year in two leading foodservice publications, Restaurant Business and Flavor & the Menu.

    “We selected these two magazines because they are a source of menu inspiration and foodservice trends for readers looking to be innovative in the culinary space,” said John Hasbrook, USA Rice Foodservice Subcommittee Chairman.  “Together these publications reach nearly 120,000 foodservice operators and 88 percent of their readers are the operational decision-makers.”

    The theme of the USA Rice ad series is ‘Rediscover Rice’ which aims to inspire foodservice operators to see the many menu applications of rice, from breakfast to entrees and everything in between.  The ads highlight the versatility of rice with appetizing food photography, on-trend rice recipes, and encourage viewers to visit thinkrice.com for recipes and information about U.S.-grown rice.

    “The foodservice operator research we conducted last year showed us that while rice is a popular ingredient on menus, it’s not top of mind with operators when it comes to recipe innovation, so we’re looking to change that,” said Hasbrook.  “The new ads are fresh and eye-catching and we’re hoping the clever emphasis of the word ‘rice’ in the word ‘rediscover’ will leave a lasting impression on viewers and inspire them to explore the many menu possibilities rice has to offer.”

    The first third-page ad was printed in the January/February issue of Flavor & the Menu magazine as well as the January issue of Restaurant Business magazine.  A digital ad will appear in the February edition of Restaurant Business' Recipedia e-newsletter which generates more than 27,000 foodservice operator impressions. 

  • Food for Thought: U.S. Rice Meets Foodservice Trends on Campus

    by Deborah Willenborg | Feb 06, 2017
    Foodservice menus at their fingertips
    C&U-Newsletter-Ipad
    ARLINGTON, VA – College students aren’t just hungry for knowledge, they’re also just hungry according to Datassential, a foodservice research firm, that reports College & University (C&U) operators spent $7.2 billion on purchases from distributors and made sales of $17.9 billion in 2016.  This upward trend is expected to continue into 2017 and to help U.S. rice capitalize on the potential opportunity in this market, USA Rice is targeting C&U foodservice providers through a new e-newsletter campaign.

    “The C&U segment serves a good amount of rice, but we’re asking them to serve even more,” said John Hasbrook, USA Rice Foodservice Subcommittee Chairman.  “Since global cuisines are so popular on campuses, we’re showcasing rice’s supreme versatility; and the low cost of rice as an ingredient helps providers.  Students also have great interest in the story of their food and U.S. rice’s story of locally and sustainably grown will surely resonate with them.”

    The first issue of the e-newsletter was distributed last week to 5,400 C&U foodservice operators and focuses on how U.S. rice can help C&U operators meet the demands of today’s students for locally-sourced and sustainable foods.  It also includes a “Meet the Farmer” section featuring California’s Nicole Van Vleck and highlights the conservation aspects of rice farming.  “We know nearly half the people that opened the email were interested in the locally-grown and sustainability messages because they clicked-thru to view more information on our website,” said Hasbrook.

    “This activity positions USA Rice as a valuable resource and partner for the C&U segment,” added Hasbrook.  “We’re giving them everything from rice menu concepts to ideas and tools to promote U.S. rice to students in college dining halls – we want to help them take advantage of current food trends that go perfectly with U.S. rice.”

    The C&U e-newsletter will be sent quarterly and future topics include plant-forward dining and innovative breakfast options.
  • New Coloring Activity Book Lets Kids Get Creative

    by Deborah Willenborg | Jan 25, 2017
    Make it a masterpiece
    Kids Coloring Booklet
    ARLINGTON, VA -- USA Rice released a new coloring booklet for children ages 2-8, to teach them about rice grown in the USA.  This new resource joins USA Rice’s collection of other educational resources including the U.S.-Grown Rice in the Classroom pamphlet and the Think Rice classroom curriculum, which are regularly requested by extension agents, educators, and others conducting youth programs including county fairs, Ag in the Classroom projects, and other local events.

    “The U.S.-Grown Rice in the Classroom pamphlet is always a hit with kids, but since its content is geared toward 4th – 6th grade students, it left out younger kids,” said Mary Jemison, USA Rice meetings and member services associate.  “So we decided to create a simple, fun, and easy-to-print coloring activity that tells the farm-to-table story of U.S. rice while also being age appropriate for the younger audience.”

    The four-page activity features a map of the U.S. on the front and asks kids to color in the six outlined rice growing states.  The center page spread shows the lifecycle of rice by season and allows kids to color in different scenes from the farm.  The last page brings rice to the table where kids can color in a family making dinner and draw a MyPlate inspired dish with rice.  

    “Since kids are seeing MyPlate all the time at school, it’s a good opportunity to show them that rice has a place on MyPlate too,” said Jemison.  

    The coloring sheet will make its big debut at the Mid-South Farm & Gin Show next month which attracts 20,000 visitors.  Jemison says, “Kids love visiting the USA Rice booth to spin the prize wheel, and we’re really excited to have this new activity and USA Rice colored pencil sets to distribute.”

    The new coloring booklet is available for download on thinkrice.com and physical copies can be requested by emailing USA Rice.
  • Dietitians are Valued Voice for Rice with Consumers

    by Deborah Willenborg | Jan 11, 2017
    Rice sampling during Kroger's Wellness Festival
    Valued-Dietitians-@-Kroger,-Wellness-Festival-Rice-Sampling
    ARLINGTON, VA -- U.S. shoppers consider their primary grocery store an ally in their health goals, and look to in-store retail dietitians to help navigate the grocery aisles to make healthier choices when it comes to food.  

    “Nutrition plays a vital role in prevention and management of chronic disease,” says Samantha Woulfe, a community dietitian at Jewel-Osco, a supermarket chain with 185 stores across the Midwest.  “We like to show our customers that healthy choices start in the grocery store and promoting rice is important because rice is a versatile and budget-friendly way to incorporate healthy grains into family meals.”

    Last fall, USA Rice partnered with Jewel-Osco’s “Build a Better Basket” program where U.S.-grown rice was promoted to shoppers through the retailer’s quarterly newsletter, weekly ad circular, blog, social media, and through in-store, point-of-sale signage.  

    “With an overall 12 percent sales lift in the rice category and customer interaction via social media, we feel it was a successful campaign,” says Wolfe.  “In the future, we hope to work with USA Rice for another promotion and show a higher increase.”

    As the number of retail dietitians is increasing, they are becoming a more integral part in helping grocery chains meet sales goals.  “As retail dietitians, we want to help our customers realize the full array of healthful options available to them inside our stores,” said Allison Kuhn, director of retail dietetics at The Little Clinic at Kroger.  “The ability to share relevant, up-to-date information about commodities, such as rice, means more peace of mind, convenience, and better choices for our shoppers.”

    USA Rice sponsored tasting and learning stations at The Little Clinic’s wellness festivals at Kroger stores in four cities including Denver, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Nashville. “USA Rice was a great partner for our in-store outreach providing simple recipes and nutritional information that was beneficial for our shoppers,” said Kuhn.

    “Sharing resources, such as the retail dietitian toolkit, with a greater network of retail dietitians helps USA Rice continue to build relationships with this influential and credible audience,” said Paul Galvani, chairman of the USA Rice Retail Subcommittee.  “This spring, we’ll be working with retail dietitians at Redner’s and Hannaford Supermarkets to conduct in-store rice demos as well as include rice in multiple shopper communication channels.”
  • The Survey Says: Health Professionals Provide Insight into Rice

    by Deborah Willenborg | Oct 25, 2016
    This crowd loves rice
    FNCE-2016
    BOSTON, MA – Last week, at the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics annual Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE), USA Rice surveyed 230 health professionals to gain insight on rice attitudes and usage.  The good news is that health professionals are huge proponents of rice.  In fact, 98 percent of those in a position to make dietary recommendations, said they encourage their patients to include rice and rice products in their diet.  But their responses also shed light on education gaps and growth opportunities for the rice industry.

    Overall, survey respondents expressed a positive perception of rice.  They ranked the most appealing attributes of rice as versatility (79%), affordability (67%), and nutrition (60%).  And when asked about the health indicators they associate with rice, the top five responses were: whole grain (77%), gluten-free (67%), complex carbohydrates (57%), source of energy (47%), and low fat (45%).

    Furthermore, 79 percent of respondents reported no barriers in recommending rice.  However, 10 percent said that when it comes to diabetic patients, recommending rice can be challenging since many patients struggle with portion control and do not want to switch from white rice to brown rice.

    Speaking of brown rice, it should come as no surprise that whole grain rice is the top choice of health professionals with 90 percent of respondents recommending brown rice, and 40 percent recommending wild rice.  And with the growing popularity of aromatic rice as well as consumers seeking more whole grain variety, 47 percent of respondents report recommending whole grain jasmine and basmati rice, while 27 percent recommend black and red rice.

    “This continues to be a good growth opportunity for the U.S. rice industry,” said Katie Maher, USA Rice director of domestic promotion.  “At the USA Rice booth, we display all of the many types of rice grown in the USA and attendees are always impressed with the variety of whole grain rice available, but they often express difficulty in finding these rice types in their grocery stores.”

    While a survey group made up of professional dietitians is well-informed about the benefits of rice, they did express a different attitude among consumers.  Thirty-three percent indicated that a general lack of knowledge about rice – on topics such as nutrition, preparation, and applications – negatively affect consumer acceptance and usage of rice.  

    “They reported that some consumers have a ‘low-carb’ mentality from the decades of fad diets and that people always seem to struggle with how to prepare rice,” Maher said.  “They told us that recipes, cooking tips and tricks, as well as detailed nutritional information about the various rice types would be helpful resources when working with consumers.”

    Maher concluded that, “FNCE is one of the most important tradeshows USA Rice attends.  We are able to address nutrition questions and food safety concerns as well as gain reliable feedback through conversations and surveys like this to better understand consumer interests and needs.”
  • Retail Dietitians Encourage Shoppers to Think Rice for NRM

    by Deborah Willenborg | Sep 21, 2016
    Retail dietitians love U.S. rice
    NRM-Retail,-Eat-Right-Newsletter-Header
    ARLINGTON, VA – As more shoppers are seeking healthier lifestyles, grocery stores are responding with health and wellness programs to meet their needs.  In fact, ninety-five percent of stores employ dietitians at the corporate, regional, and store levels, and these dietitians are developing nutrition programs to help shoppers make healthy food choices, while at the same time supporting retail grocery sales.  

    That’s why this September, in support of National Rice Month (NRM), USA Rice is working with retail dietitians to remind shoppers to Think Rice before, during, and after their shopping experience.

    “USA Rice has created partnerships with retail dietitians providing them with quality content that makes it easy to include U.S. rice in activities and supermarket communication channels,” said Katie Maher, USA Rice director of domestic promotion.  “And USA Rice is already seeing results from this month’s efforts, with retail dietitian promotions logging more than 10 million consumer impressions to date.  Other efforts include in-store recipe samplings at ShopRite and United Supermarkets, and a broadcasted recipe demonstration with Rouse’s Chef Nino on Good Morning New Orleans local TV segment.”
     
    Dietitians also are encouraging shoppers to Think Rice when thinking healthy family meals. According to Maher, “A particularly unique activity this month is USA Rice’s participation in Kroger and The Little Clinic’s Wellness Festivals.  Earlier this month, in Nashville and Columbus, hundreds of attendees visited USA Rice’s tasting and learning station staffed by one of The Little Clinic’s registered dietitians, where USA Rice’s Brown Rice with Sizzling Chicken and Vegetables recipe was demoed, and recipe cards and information distributed.”  

    Maher added, “In addition to our planned partner promotions, dietitians at four other grocery stores - Big Y, Country Market, Giant Eagle, and Martin’s Supermarkets - have promoted NRM at no additional cost to USA Rice.  The bonus placements from those dietitians demonstrate the quality of USA Rice’s resources and also the benefit of working with this dietitian network to stretch our promotion dollars.  All told, this year’s NRM retail dietitian program is shaping up to be another success!”
  • USA Rice and P.F. Chang’s Partner for RiceGivingsm Promo Once Again

    by Deborah Willenborg | Sep 12, 2016
    Eat at P.F. Chang's this month
    in support of Feeding America
    PFC-RiceGiving-Promo
    ARLINGTON, VA -- For the second year in a row during September’s National Rice Month, USA Rice is partnering with P.F. Chang’s, a major user of U.S.-grown rice, to raise awareness about rice grown in the USA and to help fight hunger in America with a food-raising campaign called RiceGiving.  Created by USA Rice and leveraging the national food bank network of Feeding America, the RiceGiving program is expected to donate as much as 200,000 pounds of U.S. rice which will provide 2 million servings of rice to people in need.

    “P.F. Chang’s was so pleased with the results of last year’s program and the positive feedback they received that they decided to sign-on to the RiceGiving campaign again this year,” said Katie Maher, director of domestic promotion programs.  “But this year, they’re presenting the campaign as ‘A Bowl for a Roll,’ so for every sushi roll ordered at P.F. Chang’s this month, a serving of U.S.-grown rice will be donated.”

    P.F. Chang’s is promoting the RiceGiving program in their 210 restaurants with tabletop signs as well as special promotional pens filled with U.S.-grown rice that will be distributed with each diner’s check.  They also created a dedicated rice webpage to promote RiceGiving and their new Farm to Wok™ rice video, featuring Arkansas rice farmers Dow Brantley and Jennifer James.

    The newly released video beautifully captures the artistry of rice farming and tells the story of the U.S.-grown grain that is integral to so many of the dishes featured on P.F. Chang’s menu.  The video further emphasizes P.F. Chang’s Farm to Wok™ philosophy of sourcing the highest quality ingredients and preparing them in a scratch kitchen.  P.F. Chang’s restaurants use real, whole ingredients to make their recipes every day.  These ingredients are intentionally chosen for their flavor and unique nutritional benefits, helping P.F. Chang’s create the purposefully simple recipes that their guests have come to know and love.

    “America’s rice farmers are a part of this story,” said Michael Osanloo, chief executive officer of P.F. Chang’s.  “RiceGiving allows us to work together to express our shared values in the kitchen and throughout communities across America.”

    USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward is impressed with P.F. Chang’s commitment:  “We’re excited to continue and expand our partnership with P.F. Chang’s.  It’s a natural fit because 100 percent of the rice they serve is grown in the U.S. and they’re enthusiastically telling their guests about it.  We’re looking forward to another successful RiceGiving program celebrating National Rice Month 2016.”
  • New Edition of Whole Grain Showcases National Rice Month and More

    by Michael Klein | Sep 07, 2016
    All the rice news that fits
    COMM-New Edition of Whole Grain Showcases National Rice Month and More-160907

    ARLINGTON, VA – The latest issue of USA Rice’s groundbreaking publication, Whole Grain, is being distributed this week to more than 25,500 rice industry members around the country.  As always, the newspaper is loaded with important and exciting stories about National Rice Month, key international markets, and the 2016 USA Rice Outlook Conference, and much more.

    Readers will learn about the wonderful RiceGiving program created by USA Rice and international upscale Asian restaurant chain, P.F. Chang’s; retail promotions driving consumer rice sales; and the updated National Rice Month Scholarship program.

    Writers also provided updates on Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Turkey, as well as highlighting recent developments in the United Kingdom and with food aid programs.

    The LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station is profiled, as is California grower Sean Doherty, and the Rice Leadership Development Program.

    A program preview of the 2016 USA Rice Outlook Conference this December in Memphis, Tennessee is also included with the announcement of the key note speaker, former NASA Astronaut and Columbia University Professor Dr. Michael Massimino – the first person to Tweet from space!

    “We’re thrilled with this issue of the
    Whole Grain,” said Michael Klein, vice president of marketing, communications, & domestic promotion and the editor of the paper.  “As always, a special thanks to our advertisers: Buhler, Wellmark International, Douget’s Rice Milling Company, and Horizon Ag.  Their support is crucial to us continuing to grow this newspaper and being able to provide the excellent reporting that we do.”

    If you do not receive the
    Whole Grain in your mailbox, or you’d like additional copies to distribute to friends, neighbors, and colleagues, or you would like to advertise in future issues, contact Colleen Klemczewski at cklem@usarice.com.

  • ThinkRice.com Thinks Refresh

    by Deborah Willenborg | Aug 22, 2016
    The new look of thinkrice.com
    ThinkRice.com-Update
    ARLINGTON, VA -- USA Rice recently revamped thinkrice.com, its consumer-facing website, with design, content, and functionality improvements.  The sleek new look enhances the user experience and enriches the way USA Rice communicates the U.S. rice message with all public audiences.

    “One of our priorities is to inspire people to Think Rice and recognize that U.S. rice is an on-trend ingredient that meets their culinary, nutritional, and locally-grown preferences,” said Katie Maher, director of domestic promotion programs.  “And a huge part of that is having a fresh and modern online presence that resonates with visitors.”

    The updated website uses colorful graphics and photos to grab viewers’ attention.  On the home page, a slider moves across the screen showcasing popular content areas like sustainability and nutrition, and will be updated throughout the year to help boost website traffic.  

    Beneath that, visitors can easily navigate to recipes for foodservice, consumer, or K-12, and to our “Meet U.S. Rice Farmers” section to hear their stories from the field.  

    “One of my favorite new functions of the site is the interactive nature that draws viewers in to highlight important messages,” said Maher.  “On the home page we have a graphic that uses animation to display topline stats of rice’s sustainability story as you scroll over it.  It’s an impactful way to get the main message out there without overwhelming the reader, and we’ll be doing more of this in the future to showcase food and rice trends.”

    Maher explained that USA Rice worked to refresh thinkrice.com because this program year domestic promotion activities will focus on driving more traffic to the site through social media as well as foodservice advertising and e-newsletters.

    “Foodservice operators and health professionals look to commodity boards and trade associations, like USA Rice, as experts and a reliable source of information and resources,” said Maher.  “We wanted our website to reflect those expectations and be viewed as a valuable resource because that is key to having new and returning visitors.”
  • Rice for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Everything Between

    by Deborah Willenborg | Aug 12, 2016
    Innovate the menu:
    butternut squash cakes with mixed grains
    Butternut-Squash-Cakes-with-Mixed-Grains
    ARLINGTON, VA – USA Rice has created ten new rice recipes, specifically for foodservice, that cover multiple meals and feature various rice types such as U.S. jasmine, U.S. basmati, U.S. Arborio, long grain brown and white, and medium grain rice.  The new recipes were designed to work for breakfast, appetizers, side dishes, and main dishes.

    “Giving chefs the tools to innovate -- recipe concepts, preparation instructions, and information about new rice products – is a great way to move rice to the center of the plate,” says Katie Maher, USA Rice director of domestic promotion.  “We already have an excellent U.S. Rice in the Culinary Classroom toolkit for the foodservice segment but adding fresh and modern recipe concepts to the mix will boost our restaurant outreach.”

    USA Rice is also educating restaurant operators about the high quality of U.S. aromatic rice.  John Hasbrook, chair of the USA Rice Foodservice Subcommittee, explains:  “With aromatic rice gaining popularity, it's important to inform foodservice operators that jasmine and basmati are grown right here in the United States.  Our research identified several regional and national chains currently using imported jasmine and/or basmati rice and a major focus of current foodservice program efforts is making these restaurants aware of what’s possible with locally sourced rice.”  
     
    The USA Rice foodservice chef team has also created recipes that combine rice with ancient grains highlighting the idea that you can combine many kinds of grains to enhance a dish.  

    “Our chef team is finding new and innovative ways to incorporate rice into menus and sharing those ideas at every opportunity,” said Hasbrook.  “All the recipes and food photography are available on thinkrice.com and will be used in future advertising and e-newsletters to the foodservice community.”

    “This two-pronged approach of developing content and driving chefs to the website combined with chef-to-chef outreach reminds this audience that USA Rice is here to be a partner and a resource,” said Maher.


  • Next Generation of Chefs Gives Brown Rice a Thumbs Up

    by Deborah Willenborg | Aug 03, 2016
    Click here to download the complete cookbook
    MyPlate-Healthy-Lunchtime-Cookbook
    WASHINGTON, DC -- This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released the 2016 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge Cookbook, comprised of recipes created by kid chefs across the country.  The fifty-six MyPlate inspired recipes are the winning entries of the 2016 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge and 12 of those recipes include brown rice as a featured ingredient.

    Last month, the winners joined First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House for the 5th Annual Kids “State Dinner,” where these winning recipes were served.  

    With more than 1,200 entries submitted to the challenge, the recipes were narrowed down based on healthfulness, taste, originality, affordability, and following USDA’s MyPlate nutrition guidance.  As a new twist, this year’s challenge incorporated the MyPlate, MyState initiative, shining a spotlight on American-grown food and encouraging entrants to use local ingredients from their state.

    The twelve rice recipes tout the whole grain and gluten-free benefits of brown rice.  From the ‘Louisiana Power Lunch,’ to the ‘Super Stuffed Squash,’ to ‘D.I.Y Sushi,’ these aspiring chefs highlight the versatility of rice and its place on a healthy plate.  

    “It’s great to see that these young people care about healthy eating and know that brown rice is a part of that,” said Byron Homes, chairman of the USA Rice Nutrition Subcommittee.  “And what’s more, this project educated kids about American agriculture and encouraged them to see the value of sourcing locally-grown ingredients, like U.S. rice, which is exactly our goal.”

    The winning recipes are available online at What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl.  

  • New P.F. Chang’s Menu Shines Spotlight on U.S.-Grown Rice

    by Deborah Willenborg | Aug 02, 2016
    U.S. rice - Farm to Wok at P.F. Chang's
    PF-Chang's-New-Menu
    ARLINGTON, VA – The national Asian restaurant leader P.F. Chang’s has updated the menus in their more than 200 restaurants to include a special call-out informing guests that all of the rice they serve is grown in the USA.  

    “The menu spotlight on U.S.-grown rice is the lead-in to a new promotion by P.F. Chang’s scheduled to launch next month and is a huge boost for U.S. rice,” explains Katie Maher, USA Rice director of domestic promotion.  “Having P.F. Chang’s, a household name with a great reputation, tout U.S.-grown rice on their menu is invaluable.”  

    Sprinkled throughout the new menu, are several interesting facts about Asian cuisine and ingredients in the dishes.  Beneath the ‘Noodles & Rice’ section, P.F. Chang’s highlights the nutritional benefits of rice and where it’s grown, stating:  “Our U.S. sourced rice is a nutrient-rich grain that provides more than 15 vitamins and minerals, beneficial antioxidants and is also GMO free.”

    “We decided to feature messages about our rice that we’re proud of and thought would resonate with our guests,” said Dwayne Chambers, P.F. Chang’s chief marketing officer.  “The fact that the rice we serve is grown right here by U.S. farmers and also provides beneficial nutrients is something we wanted to highlight.”

    USA Rice initially partnered with P.F. Chang’s last September to present the first RiceGiving, a charitable program that donated a serving of U.S.-grown rice to the hungry for every rice entrée ordered by P.F. Chang’s guests.  The U.S. rice industry donated 100,000 pounds of rice to food banks – that’s one million servings of rice going to those in need.  
     
    P.F. Chang’s promoted the program to their guests through social media, in restaurants with promotional cards provided to each table, and with a dedicated web page featuring a two minute promotional video provided by USA Rice.  

    “It’s great that P.F. Chang’s is calling attention to America’s family rice farmers,” said USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward.  “Given P.F. Chang’s reputation and commitment to quality food and ability to stay relevant in the tough foodservice sector, we think these menus will serve as a case study to show other national chains that not only should you be serving U.S.-grown rice, but you should be talking about it as well.”


  • SNA Conference: Thinking Rice in the School Cafeteria and Beyond

    by Colleen Klem | Jul 15, 2016
    May the best rice bowl recipe win!
    2016 SNA-160713 

    SAN ANTONIO, TX— Nearly 7,000 school nutrition professionals from across the nation descended upon the Henry B. Gonzales Center here this week for the School Nutrition Association’s (SNA) Annual National Conference to learn about the latest and greatest in food, beverage, supply equipment, and service solutions. The 3 day conference featured lengthy dedicated exhibit hall hours, where USA Rice hosted a popular, interactive booth.

    Attendees lined up to spin USA Rice’s famous prize wheel that tested their knowledge of U.S. rice. Every prize wheel contestant walked away with a rice crispy cake made using U.S.-grown rice and educational information about the many benefits that rice brings to the table. While they were waiting in line to spin the wheel and answer some rice trivia, attendees picked up packets of kid-friendly rice recipes and a Rice 101 Cooking Guide that contained rice preparation information for foodservice professionals.  

    A new feature this year at the USA Rice booth was a recipe contest that asked participants to submit a creative rice bowl concept for use as a standardized K-12 recipe. Several hundred people entered the contest for a chance to win a cash prize and serve as a consultant during the development of their winning recipe. 

    “We are really excited about the level of participation for this new healthy rice bowl recipe contest,” said Katie Maher, USA Rice’s director of domestic promotion. “It was an engaging element of our booth that encouraged attendees to think of rice as a versatile ingredient that can be paired with many other nutritious foods. The menu options really are endless when it comes to rice.” 

    During this year’s conference, USA Rice staff also met with key school nutrition influencers from Iowa, Kansas, and Louisiana to discuss new opportunities for incorporating rice onto school menus and to learn how USA Rice can continue providing useful resources to schools.

    “It’s crucial for us to take time to make these connections with people who are responsible for menu planning and food purchasing decisions,” said Maher. “It affords us the opportunity to share our resources with them and to reiterate our message that rice is a central component of a healthy, well-balanced diet in school lunchrooms and at home.”