• Turkish Retailer Shares the Bill with USA Rice for Promotions

    by Deborah Willenborg | May 26, 2017
    Curious crowd
    Daily-Retail-Ramadan-at-Uyum
    ISTANBUL, TURKEY -- A major Turkish retailer, Uyum Hypermarket, recently joined forces with USA Rice to promote U.S.-grown rice here with a cost-sharing marketing program.  The campaign, that included retail displays at one of their busiest hypermarkets, was conducted in the run up to the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, that this year begins today and ends on June 24.

    Rice consumption is very high during Ramadan because, though observers fast from sunrise until sunset, they gather with friends and family for a post-sunset meal, called an Iftar.  It is also common to have one meal, known as Suhoor, just before sunrise.  A wide variety of dishes, many of which are rice-based, are prepared for the Iftar.

    The five-day campaign to promote U.S. rice included outdoor and indoor billboards, where the hypermarkets paid 50 percent of the costs; giveaways that included aprons, consumer bags and hats, where the hypermarkets paid 30 percent of the costs; and retail display space, completely paid for by the hypermarkets.  

    Posters promoting the event and special announcements in the stores invited customers to taste healthy recipes made with U.S.-grown rice, presented by famous gourmet Elif Korkmazel.  Additionally, festive USA Rice booths were installed in the hypermarkets aimed at increasing visibility for U.S. rice, and educating consumers through taste events and distribution of recipes booklets and materials co-sponsored by participating U.S. rice brands.  

    Throughout the campaign, sales of U.S. rice at Uyum stores increased by an average of 700 percent and consumers received important messages about the versatility and cooking characteristics of U.S. rice.

    “We have very good acceptance here and Turkey is an important growth market for our industry,” said Hartwig Schmidt, USA Rice Regional Director.  “I think it is particularly telling that the retailers paid for part of these promotions because it shows they not only like our products, but see value in our specific promotion program to help drive sales at their stores."

    Schmidt said cost sharing programs between USA Rice, local brands, and local retailers have been successful in the Middle East, the United Kingdom, and now Turkey.

    “The success of these programs and the support from local businesses is undeniable,” he said.

    Last year, the U.S. exported about $31 million of U.S. rice to Turkey; in the first three months of 2017, $10.5 million of U.S. rice has already been shipped.
  • Exports to UK at Ten Year All-Time High

    by Deborah Willenborg | May 22, 2017
    Big shelves to fill
    UK-Exports-Show-Largest-Jump-in-10-years,-Wanis
    LONDON, ENGLAND – The UK, the largest market for U.S. rice in the EU, has experienced an impressive 207 percent increase in all types of U.S. rice imports during the first 3 months of 2017 (over 10,000 MT valued at $5.4 million).  This has been driven by a staggering 5,877 percent increase in parboiled long grain rice imports and a 515 percent increase in long grain imports.
     
    “Long a mainstay of ethnic markets here, we’re now seeing an overwhelming response from USA Rice promotions aimed at getting U.S. rice back onto mainstream UK retail shelves,” said Terry Harris, of Riceland Foods and chairman of the USA Rice Europe, Middle East, Africa Promotion Subcommittee.  “Following the initial success with retail promotions in 2014, we are seeing exports here increase significantly this year.”

    UK marketing activities have been further strengthened by a broader strategy encompassing ethnic wholesale and retail, a traditionally important market for U.S. long grain rice.  Key relationships have been forged in the Chinese and Afro-Caribbean sectors and, in 2016, a highly successful trading partnership began with Wanis, the UK’s leading Afro-Caribbean wholesaler.

    “Our focus, patience, and hard work has been rewarded and now U.S. rice is returning more broadly to the market,” added Hartwig Schmidt, USA Rice Regional Director.

    “In addition to the retail and ethnic sectors, U.S. rice is also experiencing demand from the UK foodservice and manufacturing sectors.  A spokesperson for a leading UK manufacturer recently remarked that ‘the premium quality and consistency of US rice is seen as a benefit to both manufacturers and consumers alike,’” Schmidt said.
  • USA Rice Promotes Medium Grain to Supermarket Chains in Japan

    by Deborah Willenborg | May 15, 2017
    Fine products from all over the world
    including U.S. rice
    2017 CGC-Exhibit-Japan
    TOKYO, JAPAN – Co-Operative Grocer Chain (CGC) Japan, a cooperative chain of 220 middle to small size supermarkets with more than 4,000 individual member stores nationwide, sponsored an exhibition last month to introduce their members to new food products and U.S. medium grain rice was one of the featured rice items.   

    “CGC actually developed an original bag for U.S. medium grain and recently started experimental sales at selected supermarkets,” said Hugh Maginnis, USA Rice vice president international.  “Their 5kg bag of U.S. medium grain features menu pictures designed to teach consumers that U.S. medium grain is actually a good table rice.”

    U.S. rice is gaining momentum in both the retail and foodservice markets in Japan.  “For instance, Costco Japan started stocking U.S. medium grain rice,” said Maginnis.  

    U.S. rice for commercial use in Japan enters through the restrictive Simultaneous-Buy-Sell (SBS) system which makes it difficult to develop consistent, long-term marketing plans in Japan.  The SBS system is limited to no more than 100,000 MT annually from all origins.

    Maginnis concluded, “Further reforms would make it easier for Japanese consumers to access imported rice and would likely have a positive effect on demand for rice imports in both the retail and foodservice sectors in Japan.”
  • USA Rice Reaches 6 Million Turkish Consumers Thanks to Blogger Events

    by Deborah Willenborg | Apr 26, 2017
    Pick your platform
    Social Media Options
    ISTANBUL, TURKEY -- Turkey is a high priority market for exports sales and a good prospect for promoting increased consumption of U.S. rice due to the young, westernized population readily accepting of imported products, a concentration of buyers, a well-developed media, and a tradition of rice consumption.  As with many countries around the world, reaching these younger consumers is best accomplished via social media, an inexpensive and convenient way to gain media coverage that plays out in sales over the long term.

    In 2016, USA Rice held two blogger events here, Turkey’s most populated city with more than 17 million consumers.  The first event targeted media bloggers with the goal of introducing U.S. rice and U.S. wild rice, and to teach about the versatility of U.S. rice, along with its taste and quality attributes.  

    Sixteen top food bloggers attended the social media campaign launch with the Kirinti restaurant chain.  According to Deniz Erkul, the operation's owner, wild rice menu sales are now 20 percent of the total menu due to the USA Rice promotion.  “We believe that U.S. rice and mainly wild rice will be an asset to our existing rich menu.  Expanding our menu and including U.S. rice in different meal parts like salads, main dishes, and even desserts is exactly what we are looking for to encourage our customers to order it and to keep our menu fresh and exciting," said Erkul.

    The Kirinti U.S. rice campaign generated free media coverage and blogger support as key dailies like Milliyet, with over 1.5 million readers, covered it.  

    “Consumers naturally trust third-party blog posts about a product or company more than statements from the company itself,” said USA Rice Regional Director Hartwig Schmidt.  “And we are happy to report this campaign generated five million impressions which is media exposure for U.S. rice equivalent to $50,000 ad buy, at a fraction of the cost.”

    USA Rice hosted a similar blogger event at the Armada Club in Antalya where the restaurant’s executive chef prepared two dishes using U.S. rice.  The 22 food bloggers who participated received recipe brochures and detailed information about U.S. wild rice cooking and quality tips.  The coverage in major blogs generated one million impressions for U.S. wild rice.

    “Last year, the U.S. exported about $31 million worth of U.S. rice to Turkey,” stated Schmidt.  “It’s an important growth market for our industry and we are grateful for the use of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Market Access Program (MAP) funds to help us market here.  Because of the MAP program, we are able to promote our products overseas and diversify the markets where we sell U.S. rice products.  This program is a huge boost to our growers who export about 50 percent of their crop each year.”

  • USDA FAS: USA Rice Programs in Jordan a Success

    by Deborah Willenborg | Apr 25, 2017
    Mansaf, the national dish of Jordan:
    lamb cooked in yogurt sauce served over rice
    Mansaf,-National-Dish-of-Jordan
    AMMAN, JORDAN – According to the most recent Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) Report on the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, consumer programs aimed at promoting U.S.-grown rice here are successful based on the market dominance and price of the U.S. commodity.

    “Rice is a staple of the Jordanian diet…[and] in marketing year 2017/18 imports are expected to reach 210,000 metric tons [with] U.S. market share expected to remain steady at nearly 50 percent supplying 100,000 metric tons,” reads the March 22 report.  “Although the price is relatively higher, the U.S. industry’s market development efforts have paid off, generating loyalty among Jordanian consumers who have developed a strong preference for U.S. origin rice.”

    USA Rice-sponsored promotion programs in Jordan include print and online advertising in advance of the Ramadan holiday when great feasts with rice are often prepared, outdoor advertising in 30 high-profile, high-traffic locations, and the distribution of branded aprons and other cooking apparel to tens of thousands of families in the capital.

    “We are working to improve our already excellent relationship with Jordanian consumers and see this market, number one in the Arab region for U.S. medium grain, as one we can continue to grow,” explained Hartwig Schmidt, USA Rice’s representative for the region.  “Medium grain is the local favorite, constituting about half of imports, with long grain, basmati, and jasmine making up the rest.”

    Schmidt said that extreme water scarcity here means Jordan must import a great many crops – especially one as water-dependent as rice.  He said India, the next largest origin, accounts for about 23 percent of imports, but that no country pays a tariff to import rice to Jordan.

    “Jordan is a young country with a growing population thanks in part to refugees from Palestine, Iraq, and Syria,” Schmidt added.  “Rice is an important part of all their cultures, and we’ll do all we can to ensure they appreciate the quality and dependability of U.S. rice.”
  • Return We Will to Old Brazil

    by Deborah Willenborg | Apr 21, 2017
    Shop the rice aisle in Brazil with Steve Linscombe
    Steve-Linscombe-at-CODEX-in-Brazil,-shopping
    RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Earlier this month at the Codex Committee on Contaminants in Food (CCCF 11) session, USA Rice staff had the opportunity to peruse markets in the Barra da Tijuca neighborhood here to see what they are stocking and what consumers are buying.  

    Rice is truly a staple of the Brazilian diet.  Unlike shoppers in the United States who might buy a two-pound bag of rice every few trips to the supermarket, Brazilians stock up with four and five two-pound bags at a time to fill their weekly needs.  Consumers here are very discerning when it comes to quality:  they look for rice that is consistent, cooks well, and is well-suited to the specific dishes they prepare.

    Click ​here to shop the rice aisle at two Brazilian grocery stores, one large and one small, and see what brands we found.  (While one brand was a well-known U.S. one, none of the rice we encountered was U.S. origin.)


  • U.S. Rice Makes an Impression at FABEX

    by Deborah Willenborg | Apr 17, 2017
    Taste-testing at the USA Rice booth
    2017 FABEX
    TOKYO, JAPAN – Last week, USA Rice participated in FABEX, the World Food and Beverage Great Expo, introducing new menu ideas using U.S. medium grain rice.  FABEX is a trade exhibition targeting foodservice and deli operators, and more than 77,000 traders visited during this year’s three-day show.

    “Going into FABEX, USA Rice had three strategic objectives,” said Jim Guinn, USA Rice staff who attended the trade show.  “First was to showcase new uses of Calrose, second was to provide taste-testing opportunities for targeted traders, and third was to share information about U.S.-grown rice across the supply chain.”

    Guinn said Calrose was highlighted in twelve menu samples packed in plastic containers for deli take-out, a growing sector.  Additionally, more than 1,500 samples of two menus – rice salad sushi style and gumbo with turmeric rice – were shared with visitors.

    “We also conducted one-on-one taste-testing sessions for 19 foodservice-related companies who invited their rice suppliers – leading wholesalers,” Guinn added.  “Half the companies were already using U.S. medium grain but all said the new style menus had inspired them to get creative when coming up with their own original dishes using U.S. medium grain.”

    Private import of U.S. rice under the Simultaneous-Buy-Sell (SBS) has risen dramatically in the past year due in part to the dearth of reasonably priced local varieties of rice suitable for foodservice and Guinn said at least 150 traders requested additional materials and samples to learn more about U.S.-grown rice.
  • Growing Hostility Between Turkey and Russia Could Benefit U.S. Rice

    by Michael Klein | Mar 29, 2017
    Eat up, son
    IP-Growing Hostility Between Turkey and Russia Could Benefit US 2-170329

    ANKARA, TURKEY – USA Rice maintains a robust program and trade servicing program here to ensure U.S.-grown rice maintains a strong presence and identity in the market.  As a result, Turkey is a top ten destination for U.S.-grown rice and exports have averaged more than 192,000 metric tons over the past four or five years. Now those exports are poised to gain as Turkey and Russia are engaged in an all-out trade war on agriculture goods.

    Turkey and Russia have a complicated and intertwined history that dates back hundreds of years, and the two countries have maintained a healthy respect for each other, if not a full working relationship. However, that relationship has been under great strain as of late.

    In November 2015, a Turkish fighter jet shot down a Russian plane near the Turkish-Syrian border during an airspace dispute.  Russia slapped several economic sanctions on Turkey, including banning some agricultural imports.

    Full-scale war was avoided and the parties worked to normalize relations. But then in August 2016 Turkish President Erdogan called the Russian annexation of Crimea “Crimea’s occupation.”  And in December, a Turkish gunman assassinated the Russian Ambassador to Turkey in an art gallery in front of horrified onlookers.  Although considered by most, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, to be a provocation designed to derail the warming relations between Turkey and Russia, the incident escalated tensions.  Tensions that are now hitting trade in food.

    In February, Russia lifted the 2015 ban on imports from Turkey of onions, shallots, cauliflower, broccoli, salt, carnations, and gum, but the economic impact to Turkey was minuscule – and at less than $20 million, far below the relief the Turkish government expected.

    Turkey responded recently by banning the import of corn, wheat, crude sunflower oil, sunflower seeds, peas, and rice from Russia.  This annual trade is estimated to be worth $1.3 billion and clearly got the Russian government’s attention.

    An upcoming trade mission of Russian officials to Turkey to discuss ending the trade skirmish has been canceled until the new Turkish bans are lifted.  Sixteen tons of Turkish fruit has been rejected by Russia, and importantly here, the brisk trade in tomatoes, worth about $250 million annually, has been shut down.

    While this is going on, 25,000 metric tons of U.S.-grown rice are on their way to Turkey, and two importers are considering purchasing another 50,000 metric tons according to the trade here.

    USA Rice continues to keep a bold presence in country, with 95 earned media placements in January and February, and in-store demonstrations every week.

    “Turkey has always been an important market for U.S. rice and I think we are a valued supplier,” said Hugh Maginnis, vice president of international for USA Rice. “While this trade battle goes on between Turkey and Russia, it’s important for the Turkish government and trade to know they can continue to count on the U.S. to deliver high quality rice that their people love and depend on.”

  • U.S. Medium Grain Rice Featured at FOODEX in Japan

    by Deborah Willenborg | Mar 10, 2017

    Colorful Sushi Salad made with U.S. medium grain
    Medium-Grain-Featured-at-Foodex-Japan,-Sushi-Salad
    TOKYO, JAPAN – USA Rice hit the ground running on Tuesday, the first day of FOODEX 2017, the largest annual food and beverage tradeshow in Asia, with a taste-testing activity featuring U.S. medium grain rice.  The cold menu dish, "U.S. Medium Grain Rice Salad Sushi Style," was well received by the more than 500 trade visitors who stopped by the U. S. Embassy Agriculture Trade Office (ATO) booth for a sampling, and will be one of the recipes included in a promotion highlighting new usages of U.S. medium grain rice for this market.

    “A positive take-away from the sampling activity was more visitors were aware of U.S. medium grain than in the past,” said Jim Guinn, director of USA Rice Asia Promotion Programs.  “There were also more foodservice operators in attendance who are already using U.S. medium grain rice.”  

    USA Rice also conducted a survey of more than 40 traders about how they use U.S. medium grain rice in their menus, introduced the new U.S. medium grain deli menu book, and reminded everyone of the annual menu contest targeting chefs and deli operators tentatively scheduled for August 2017.

    “U.S. medium grain rice has made great strides in the last year with two new wholesalers who target small foodservice operations now carrying Calrose and two new retail chains also carrying the product,” said USA Rice Vice President International Hugh Maginnis  “Japan was our third largest export market in 2016, importing 346,800 MT of U.S. rice.”
  • USA Rice Foodservice Activities in Mexico Influence Next Generation of Chefs

    by Deborah Willenborg | Mar 08, 2017
    Finally, U.S. rice gets it's just desserts
    MX-Student-Chef-Competition
    PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO – Puerto Vallarta is a major player on the gastronomic stage, hosting international gourmet festivals attended by award winning chefs from around the world.  The vibrant culinary scene is known for its world-class restaurants and the extraordinary cuisine, and earlier this month, USA Rice conducted three foodservice seminars and student chef competitions here.  

    “Our goal with these activities is to have a presence in the region and to ultimately influence the future chefs in this important and booming market,” said USA Rice Vice President International Hugh Maginnis.  “In addition, we want to encourage the hotel and restaurant industry here to use more U.S.-grown rice in their menus as a way to provide patrons with delicious, elegant, gourmet meals while increasing their own profits because of the affordability of rice as an ingredient.”
     
    USA Rice events were held at three culinary institutions and included foodservice seminars under the slogan, “Increase your Profits with Rice,” presentations on U.S. rice production and the importance of rice in the foodservice industry, and an interactive rice cooking instruction.  

    The cooking competitions were the final activity of the day and generated much excitement as student chefs created a variety of gourmet rice dishes, including paella, desserts, and healthy dishes that were the perfect combination of rice, proteins, and vegetables for optimal nutrition.  

    “It’s worth noting that the culinary training schools where we stage these events have a high success rate in placing students in jobs in the restaurant and hospitality industry,” said Maginnis.  “Past contestants in USA Rice competitions have gone on to work at top restaurants throughout Mexico as well as at a Michelin Star restaurant in Spain where they are making menuing decisions that include U.S. rice.”
  • USA Rice Makes Contact at Gulfood Show

    by Deborah Willenborg | Mar 06, 2017
    Busy booth - take a number
    Gulfood-Show-2017
    DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – Last week, USA Rice participated at the 22nd annual Gulfood Show, the region’s largest and most important trade event of the year where buyers and sellers meet for one-on-one discussions, and vendors showcase the latest products, trends, and industry innovations from more than 5,000 participating companies.  The event’s 1.2 million square feet of exhibition space was sold out across all 22 halls of the Dubai World Trade Centre, and an estimated 95,000 visitors from more than 150 countries attended.

    At the USA Rice booth, staff provided potential buyers with brochures and lists of U.S. suppliers, and met with key international rice importers and FAS personnel to discuss policy issues and areas of possible promotional cooperation.  Five different U.S. rice exporter companies manned the booth and talked to traders and professionals from the foodservice and hospitality sector who impact the palates of more than two billion consumers in the region.
     
    “USA Rice’s presence at Gulfood enabled us to meet with existing trade partners from several countries in the Middle East as well as North and West Africa,” said USA Rice Vice President International Hugh Maginnis.  “We distributed brochures to potential traders, but also to members of the hotel, restaurant, and industrial sector.  We offered marketing assistance to local U.S. rice brands knowing this not only increases loyalty to U.S. rice, but also helps combat the severe price and quality competition.”
     
    An increasing influx of expatriates, higher disposable incomes, and rising health awareness among consumers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is predicted to grow the nation’s food and beverage sector by 30 percent over 2015 within the next five years.

    “U.S. rice exports to the UAE have increased from 6,000 MT in 2012 to over 11,000 MT in 2016,” said Maginnis.  “U.S. rice sales to the Middle East are around 500,000 MT and our promotion programs in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Turkey are working to boost that figure.”
  • Japan Foodservice Industry Sold on Calrose

    by Deborah Willenborg | Feb 08, 2017
    U.S. rice hops aboard the sushi conveyor belt
    Conveyor-Belt-Sushi
    TOKYO, JAPAN – Over the past half year, the Japanese foodservice industry has rediscovered U.S. Calrose rice and initiated steps to evaluate its use in traditional Japanese cuisine.  Last fall a sample of Calrose as vinegar-seasoned rice for sushi was tested and found to be readily acceptable for use in sushi sold in supermarkets, convenience stores and in rotating sushi bars, called Kaitenzushi.  

    In another test last month, the Japan Cooked Rice Association, an organization consisting of companies supplying cooked rice for ready-made meals and foodservice, tested Calrose at their own initiative.  USA Rice facilitated the supply of rice for the latest test from the 2016 crop where Calrose was compared to Haenuki, the Japanese origin rice most often used for sushi in foodservice.   The Association determined that Calrose was on par with the Japanese variety favored in foodservice and also comparable to local varieties Koshihikari (Ibaraki Prefecture) and Kirara 397 (Hokkaido) often used in “B branded,” or lower priced, rice favored by the foodservice industry and ready-made meal manufacturers.
     
    Nikkei Business Online reported recently on both tests, noting that a blanket conclusion that Japanese rice is superior in all categories of use including in sushi is not supported by the results.
     
    “Currently Calrose is very competitive with local rice as those prices have risen lately while Calrose prices have declined,” said USA Rice Vice President International Hugh Maginnis.  “Rice importers and the foodservice sector are optimistic that this trend bodes well for imports of Calrose this year under the Simultaneous Buy-Sell, or SBS, import regime.  USA Rice plans to capitalize on the favorable test results and increased competitiveness of Calrose by engaging even more with the foodservice industry and promoting the quality and versatility of U.S. Calrose rice borne out by these test results.”
  • Mexico May Move Forward with Viet Nam Trade Deal

    by Michael Klein | Feb 02, 2017
    Let's talk this through
    IP.w-Mexico-May-More-Forward-with-Vietnam-Trade-Deal-170202

    MEXICO CITY, MEXICO -- According to press reports, the government of Mexico (GOM) may move forward with implementing individual bi-lateral trade deals with many of the countries that participated in the now defunct Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).  These countries include Australia, Brunei, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Vietnam.

    “The President has given me instructions to convert the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreements into bi-lateral agreements with all of the countries with whom we do not already have free trade agreements,” said Secretary of the Economy Ildefonso Guajardo.

    Of these countries, the most sensitive to U.S. rice interests is Viet Nam, an unfairly low cost producer of long grain milled rice, and one from whom Mexico has imported rice in the past.  Currently the Mexican import duty is 20 percent, but whether immediately phased out, or eliminated over time, its removal will give the Asian producer a huge advantage in Mexico.  This past year, Viet Nam exported less than 5,000 MT of rice to Mexico; however when Mexico did not have a 20 percent duty (as in 2014), they exported nearly 70,000 MT.

    “This news, along with the talk about renegotiating all or parts of NAFTA, is creating a great deal of uncertainty,” said Brian King, chairman of USA Rice and of USA Rice’s Western Hemisphere Promotion Subcommittee.  “To date nothing has changed or been affected, but the market is nervous as to what might happen in the future, and Mexico is the largest market for U.S. rice.  We are in touch with the U.S. Embassy there and trade partners to get the very latest as this story develops, but I can tell you that anything that disrupts trade between the U.S. and Mexico gives the rice industry pause."

    At 85 percent market share, the U.S. is the major supplier of rice to Mexico and Mexico is the largest market for U.S. rice taking some 800,000 ​MT valued at $260 million.  Most of the rice exported is in rough form, but there is strong and growing demand for direct imports of long grain milled rice.

  • USA Rice Market Research Focuses on El Salvador

    by Michael Klein | Jan 31, 2017
    Difficult to demo here anyway
    A small local shop in El Salvador

    SAN SALVADOR, EL SALVADOR – USA Rice, ASALBAR (El Salvador Association of Rice Millers), and USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service representatives in San Salvador met earlier this month to discuss the results of USA Rice market research into consumer behavior and preferences in El Salvador.

    “We learned that regardless of the source, statistics and consumption figures show that there is a stagnation in rice consumption in El Salvador, or at best, very timid growth,” said Jose Alfonso Lainez of Praxis, the firm that conducted the research.  “Consumers see rice as a complement to the main dish, making it easy to replace with items such as potatoes, vegetables, salad, and about 20 other options they name.  However, one of the changes in consumer behavior we noted was a migration from purchases at traditional ‘tiendas’ and ‘pulperías’, (small shops), to establishments that offer better conditions of safety and cleanliness.”

    This shift actually makes it easier to reach consumers through in store demonstrations – something USA Rice began last year.

    Although rice is rich in vitamins and minerals, and is an excellent source of energy, the research confirms not many consumers are aware of its health benefits.  Several means of communicating these important facts, in an effort to increase rice consumption here, were discussed, including a public relations campaign targeting health professionals, paid media with nutrition and lifestyle journals and popular newspapers, and educational outreach at local health clinics. Additionally, a large scale cooking lesson for professional chefs will be held in a renowned culinary school later this year.

    USA Rice will use the results of this study to fine tune promotional activities in this important and growing market.  From January through November 2016, U.S. rice exports to El Salvador were 265,000 tons – up 636 percent over the same period in 2015.

  • USA Rice, How Tweet It Is!

    by Michael Klein | Jan 30, 2017
    She does now
    Tweet about US Rice in Canada

    Would you be able to convey the ways you love to use rice in 140 characters or less?  Canadian social media influencers did just that in an exchange of more than 2,600 rice-related tweets in just one hour!  @USARiceCan recently hosted a Twitter chat that encouraged Canadian online users to #ThinkRice by sharing tips, tricks, recipes and food memories about rice.

    Twitter lit up as rice was a trending topic in Canada during the meaningful exchange of tweets. Tip sharing was popular and the top tweet of the hour was a tip suggesting broth be used when cooking rice.

    During the Twitter chat, key rice nutrition, origin, and versatility messages were shared, and the newly re-designed Canadian website was promoted.  Recipe and nutrition links shared during the chat took users to the site at www.riceinfo.com, where they could enjoy an improved user experience.  Since the re-launch, visitors are spending more than double the amount of time on the site, and new ‘How To” rice videos featured on the site were also promoted.

    “Twitter chats, along with other social media activities, are essential to reaching an engaged audience,” says USA Rice Vice President of Marketing & Communications Michael Klein.  “More than 160,000 Twitter accounts were involved in the chat and more than 3 million impressions were generated.  Every connection we make provides us with another ‘U.S. rice ambassador’ – someone armed with perhaps new information about rice, an interesting fact or cooking tip – and each one is a new opportunity for U.S. rice.”

  • USA Rice Holds International Planning Conference

    by Katie Maher | Jan 13, 2017
    TORONTO, CANADA – Leadership from within USA Rice's International Promotion Committee, as well as the USA Rice Council and USA Rice staff, gathered here this week to review international programs and priorities for the rice industry over the coming year.  This planning meeting will provide recommendations to the full International Promotion Committee for allocating USA Rice promotional funding in critical overseas markets utilizing USDA’s Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) programs, as well as industry funds during 2017.   

    For FY2017, USA Rice received $2.49 million in MAP funds and $1.67 million in FMD funds in order to further expand U.S. rice exports.  

    "This conference is an effective planning tool for ensuring that our promotional dollars are programmed efficiently and with the highest impact for USA rice exports" said John Valpey, Chair of the USA Rice International Promotion Committee.

    Officials from the USDA/FAS Office of Trade Programs and the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa also attended the planning conference and provided valuable input.

    "We are grateful for the attendance and the guidance of FAS representatives in this process" said Valpey.  "We are also thrilled to have this year's conference in Canada, one of the largest markets for U.S. rice." 
  • Canada’s Kids Get Cooking with U.S. Rice

    by Deborah Willenborg | Jan 10, 2017
    Think rice, eh?
    Canada-Think-Rice-Competition
    TORONTO, CANADA – In an effort to capture the hearts and minds of tomorrow’s chefs and consumers, USA Rice conducted two Think Rice cooking competitions here, one for high school students and the other for elementary students enrolled in an after-school program.

    The St. Michael Catholic Secondary School boasts a state-of the-art kitchen, where approximately 120 students were taught rice culinary skills over several weeks leading up to the competition.  Thanks to the generous donation of brown rice from Terry Henderson at Dainty Foods, a major U.S. rice importer and the largest supplier of private label rice in the country, the students were able to experiment making multiple recipes.  

    Four teams of four students competed in front of an esteemed panel of judges that included the Mayor and other politicians, a reporter, and local cookbook celebrity, Rose Reisman.  The Brown Rice Burrito claimed first place, however, all the students received gifts and a grand prize was awarded to the school to be used in their nutrition program.  Following the competition, Reisman gave a one hour seminar to 100 students on U.S. rice as an important food and culinary ingredient.

    The elementary student culinary competition, “Wrap Up with Rice,” required participants to complete a rice project and cook with rice several times a week in preparation for a live demonstration in front of judges, school staff, chefs, and nutritionists.  The winning team created a Cheeseburger Rice Pie while the runners up created Vegetable Rice Pizza, and a Classic Baked Risotto.  

    “Both groups of students talked about the pressure and the fun of competing, and how nervous and excited they were cooking in front of the judges,” said Pereina Choudhury, USA Rice’s consultant in Canada.  “It’s been encouraging to see the enthusiasm and creativity of these students, and also how receptive they are to our messages about the versatility, healthiness, and superb quality of U.S. rice.”


  • International Gastronomy Conference Features U.S. Rice

    by Deborah Willenborg | Jan 05, 2017
    Ready to share
    Gastromasa Conference in Turkey
    ISTANBUL, TURKEY – Last month, USA Rice participated in a huge culinary event here called “Gastromasa.“  More than 600 chefs and food professionals from Turkey and around the world gathered to learn about new products and trends as well as help develop the gastronomy sector in Turkey by creating new partnerships and introducing foreign cuisines and ingredients to the Turkish palate.  

    At the conference, world-renowned chefs and investors shared their stories, experiences, and perspectives.  Speakers were a Who’s Who of global gastronomy, including Rice Krispy devotee Albert Adria, paella master Andoni Luis Aduriz, and Elena Arzak, named Best Female Chef of the World in 2012.

    Seventy booths, including one from USA Rice, welcomed guests with the latest culinary information.  USA Rice’s booth distributed brochures and displayed U.S. rice samples, aimed at introducing different U.S. rice varieties including Calrose, Jupiter, and wild rice and wild rice mixes as a means of increasing profitability while providing nutritious and flavorful meals to restaurant patrons.

    U.S. rice was also featured on the menu of the event itself.  The executive chef of CVK Park Bosphorus Hotel prepared different meals with U.S. rice and U.S. rice mixes that were offered at lunch to hundreds of participants.
  • Mexican Holiday Cookbook

    by Deborah Willenborg | Jan 03, 2017
    Celebrating rice
    Mexican Holiday Cookbook Cover
    MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – In time for Christmas, USA Rice released a special edition holiday cookbook titled “Celebremos con Arroz” (Let’s Celebrate with Rice).  The deluxe full-color cookbook includes 40 rice recipes for special celebrations and holidays.  Although the magazine is released in November/December for the popular Christmas season, the magazine features recipes for various holidays and will be a collector’s edition for consumers to use year-round.

    The dishes are easy to prepare and offer a great variety of ideas for consumers to use rice in their favorite celebrations and special events. The holidays featured are Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Mexican Independence Day, Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos), and Christmas.  

    The cookbook was designed to serve as a valuable resource for consumers with extensive information, including tips and techniques to guarantee perfectly cooked rice, nutritional information, informative graphics, and a special section dedicated to parties and special events, and features elegant rice canapes.

    “The target audience of the magazine are home cooks, who enjoy preparing traditional and contemporary rice dishes, as well as the food service industry,” says Gaby Carbajal, USA Rice’s representative in Mexico.  “Because readers share recipes, tips, and our entire magazine, publishers report 195,000 media impressions for the book.”

    Fifty thousand copies of this special edition cookbook will be sold at newspaper stands nationwide as well as online in printed and electronic versions at the publisher’s website, toukanmango.com.

  • Gumbo Catches on in Tokyo

    by Katie Maher | Dec 05, 2016
    Click here to view how to video
    Japan Gumbo
    TOKYO, JAPAN – Seventeen restaurants across the city are participating in a U.S. medium grain rice winter menu promotion that began last week and runs through February 2017.  Internet advertising on a popular restaurant search website connects consumers with promotion partner restaurants.

    Tony Roma’s, one of the menu promotion partners, developed eight different gumbo menu items so that their customers can enjoy a different gumbo dish every week for eight weeks.

    “Gumbo is still a new menu item in Japan, but chefs here are very creative and have developed several styles of gumbo that are served as a kinds of winter soup here,” said Jim Guinn, USA Rice’s director of Asia promotion programs.  “It is also a great dish to give chefs an idea that rice is an excellent ingredient for soup and U.S. medium grain rice works nicely in this application.”

    To encourage more restaurants to make gumbo using U.S. medium grain rice, a special information webpage was added to the USA Rice Japan website that includes recipes and a short video demonstrating how easy it is to prepare.

    “We learned through past events, such as the Taste of America campaign and various soup promotions, that gumbo was a menu item that piqued the attention of restaurant chefs,” said Guinn.  “Gumbo is a great ‘gateway’ dish to encourage chefs to use U.S. medium grain rice as a soup ingredient.”