• National Rice Month Scholarship Awarded to First Ever Video Contest Grand Prize Winner

    by Deborah Willenborg | Dec 09, 2016
    Click here to view interview with grand prize winner
    COMM.w-Heaven-McKinley-161209
    MEMPHIS, TN – Heaven McKinley, a senior at Irving High School in Grand Prairie, Texas, is the recipient of this year’s National Rice Month Scholarship grand prize for her video titled “Power Plants.”  Leslie Rogers of Dow AgroSciences and USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward presented the award to McKinley during the annual Awards Luncheon at the USA Rice Outlook Conference here yesterday.

    “The contest went to an all video format this year and competition was fierce,” said Ward.  “The creativity and quality of the student videos telling the story of U.S. rice was astounding, and I know the judges struggled to choose a winner out of the field of eighteen entrants.”

    While McKinley is from a rice-producing state, she did not grow up on a farm or even in an agricultural area.  But she does love rice!  McKinley explained, “One of the things that attracted me to apply for this scholarship, aside from the opportunity to explore rice, a staple in my diet, was the opportunity to creatively present the ways that rice agriculture affects the whole globe, from the economy to the environment.”

    Like a lot of high school seniors across the country, McKinley is still in the process of applying for college admission, but no matter which school she chooses, she intends to study environmental sciences.

    High school graduating students from rice-growing states -- Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas -- are eligible for three scholarship prizes, totaling $8,500, awarded each year.  The grand-prize winner receives a $4,000 scholarship and a trip with a chaperone to the USA Rice Outlook Conference. 

    The second-place winner receives a $3,000 scholarship, and third-place $1,500. This year, second place was awarded to Angela Lee of Los Angeles, California, for her video, “Rice Production in California.”  There was a tie for third place and Ana Little-Sana from San Diego, California, and Max Morrison of Yuba City, California, each received $1,500 scholarships for their videos, “Think Local, Think Rice,” and “National Rice Month Promotions.”

  • #ThinkRice Social Media Contest Wraps Up

    by Deborah Willenborg | Oct 03, 2016
    And the winner is...
    #ThinkRice-Photo-Contest-Winner
    ARLINGTON, VA -- During the month of September, rice growers and millers posted their best rice images on various social media channels with the hashtag #ThinkRice as part of a special National Rice Month contest hosted by USA Rice.  After reviewing the many captivating videos and pictures submitted by members across rice country, USA Rice has selected Michael Bosworth as the contest winner.

    Bosworth, a California grower and member of the 2015-2017 Rice Leadership Development Class, regularly posts engaging images and short videos of his rice farming operation on social media to directly communicate with consumers.  His posts help tell the story of U.S. rice from farm to table, and educate the public about how their food is grown and the sustainable practices Bosworth, and other U.S. rice farmers, employ to produce a top quality crop.

    “I think we are fortunate to have a consumer base that is interested in reconnecting with the farmers and ranchers who grow their food and we have a great tool in social media to help us communicate directly with them,” said Bosworth.  “We have an incredible opportunity to engage and educate our customers and the general public about how we grow rice and the positive impact we make as an industry on the environment and local economy.”

    It was an eventful National Rice Month and USA Rice’s #ThinkRice Social Media Contest received remarkable images that gave special insight into what life is like for rice farmers throughout the United States.  Entries ranged from sunsets on the farm, families gathering together during harvest, wildlife nestled between rows of rice, and more.  All of the images from the contest can be viewed on the USA Rice Facebook page.

    For winning the contest, Bosworth is receiving a complimentary registration to the 2016 USA Rice Outlook Conference that will be held December 7-9 in Memphis, Tennessee.  Registration for the event is now open!

  • Rice District Members Educate Congress on U.S. Rice Industry

    by Deborah Willenborg | Sep 29, 2016
    From left: Crawford, Boozman, and Abraham
    NRM-Floor-Speeches
    WASHINGTON, DC – This month, rice industry champions, Representatives Ralph Abraham (R-LA) and Rick Crawford (R-AR), and Senator John Boozman (R-AR) gave one-minute speeches on the floor of the House in recognition of National Rice Month.  (To view speech, click on name.)

    “Right now, America’s family rice farmers are harvesting what will end up being about 18 billion pounds of rice, off three million acres of sustainably-managed farmland,” said Abraham.  “My district alone produces an annual crop worth over $119 million, from over 110,000 planted acres across 11 parishes.”

    Abraham added, “Much of the United States’ annual rice production will be exported to more than 120 countries around the globe, and much of that will be distributed as humanitarian aid…It is my pleasure to recognize the rice growers and millers in my district, and nationwide, for the great contributions they make feeding the United States, and in fact, the world.”

    Crawford, who represents the largest rice-growing Congressional District in the nation, focused on U.S. agriculture’s challenge to feed nine billion people by 2050.  “But here in the United States Congress, one of the problems I run into is that people don’t know that we grow rice in the United States,” he said.  “But I do what I can to spread the word about American rice production, including sending other Members rice crispy treats on their birthdays.”

    Crawford concluded, “If we’re going to use rice as a tool for solving the world’s need for affordable foods, we’ve got to keep telling the story about American rice.  I can’t think of any other food more important for feeding the world.”

    Boozman made clear he’s an industry champion, saying, “I’m pleased to promote policies that enable our farmers to manage their risk so that high quality U.S. rice remains a staple on tables across the globe.”

    About the growing number of U.S. jobs and economic output associated with the rice industry, Boozman said he supports opening up new markets for U.S. rice to compete:  “Rice farmers all across America would benefit from a change in policy with Cuba because rice is a staple of the Cuban diet.  The USDA estimates that U.S. rice exports could increase by $365 million per year if financing and travel restrictions were lifted.”
  • Cal-Cam Rice Growers Celebrate National Rice Month

    by Deborah Willenborg | Sep 21, 2016
    Consumer Science students cook their way
    through National Rice Month
    Cal-Cam-NRM-Cookoff-Contestants
    LAKE CHARLES, LA – Yesterday, the Calcasieu-Cameron Rice Growers Association sponsored its 19th annual National Rice Month Cook-Off followed by a luncheon hosted by the Port of Lake Charles.  

    Sixteen Family and Consumer Science students from area middle and high schools competed in the cook-off.  Each participant received an electric rice cooker from Farmers Rice Mill here, and the Louisiana Rice Growers Association provided the contestants with a one-pound bag of Louisiana-grown Jasmine rice.

    “Although our growers are just coming off one of the most challenging harvests in memory because of the floods and rain, we are always excited to see young folks interested in rice and it’s place on the menu,” said Adam Habetz, president of the Cal-Cam RGA.

    Kiera Welker of S.J. Welsh Middle School took first place with her Shrimp Rice Patties with Gravy.  Second place went to Rachael McVey of Iowa High School for Crawfish Dressing, and third place to Makayla Hodge of South Beauregard High School for Seafood Casserole.  Evie Talbert Moss of Bluff Middle School won “Heart Healthy” recognition for her Black-Eyed Pea Jambalaya.
  • 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!”
  • #ThinkRice with USA Rice Photo Contest

    by Colleen Klem | Sep 14, 2016
    Rice farming= eternal optimism
    Rice & Rainbow-160914 

    ARLINGTON, VA -- It’s September National Rice Month!  And USA Rice is calling for members to post images from their rice farms on their social media channels, along with the hashtag #ThinkRice, as part of a strategic initiative to increase consumer engagement.

    “The goal of this social media contest is to tell the story of rice in a visual way so consumers can begin to think of their food more critically,” said Michael Klein, vice president of Marketing, Communications, and Domestic Promotion. “We want to bring awareness to the fact that rice is grown right here in the United States so when people see rice on the supermarket shelves, they will be more inclined to seek out that ‘Grown in the USA’ label in support of U.S. rice farmers.” 

    Even though harvest is at the forefront of everyone’s minds right now, contest entries are not limited to this phase of rice production.  Members can post any and all pictures that depict the various stages rice goes through before ending up on our plates.

    “The goal USA Rice will compile all of the submissions, post them on Facebook, and call on the public to vote for their favorite image.

    The person who submits the photo with the most “likes” will receive a free registration to the 2016 USA Rice Outlook Conference held December 7-9 in Memphis, Tennessee.

    Members have until October 1 to submit their favorite rice images or send contest entries via email to cklem@usarice.com.  

  • 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.

  • Against Somber Mood in Disaster Areas, National Rice Month Kicks Off to Draw Attention to Powerful Grain

    by Colleen Klem | Sep 02, 2016
    Harvest and NRM are well underway!
     Combine in Rice Field during Harvest

    ARLINGTON, VA - Despite recent disastrous weather across the mid-south that has had a devastating impact on communities and the rice industry there, National Rice Month, a celebration of the grain and industry, kicked off yesterday.

    National Rice Month (NRM) will still be used by the industry, government, local communities, and partners to draw attention to the many varieties of healthy, nutritious rice grown right here in the United States, and to the many contributions rice makes, not just to our plates, but to our economy and communities as well.

    Activities are planned throughout the month and across the country to honor rice and the people who bring it to our tables. USA Rice Daily will be highlighting some of these activities all month long.

    Readers can look forward to updates from supermarket retail partners such as Jewel-Osco, Kroger, Rouses, and others; foodservice partners, including the outstanding charitable RiceGiving program USA Rice developed with P.F. Chang's China Bistro, and the revamped NRM Scholarship Contest, underwritten by Dow AgroSciences (see story below).

    USA Rice has also made a promotional media kit available for the industry and partners who want to get in on the act of celebrating rice. The kit includes sample graphics, social media posts and videos clips, but rice enthusiasts are encouraged to use original materials as well - so long as they tag the posts, #ThinkRice.

    "And of course it's important to remember that the reason September is National Rice Month is because it coincides with harvest, a time of intense, exciting action on the farms and at the mills," said Colleen Klemczewski, social media coordinator for USA Rice. "I want people to be snapping pictures and shooting videos of their rice operations and posting them or sending them to me all month long."

    Klemczewski says photos and videos tagged with the #ThinkRice will be compiled on USA Rice's Facebook page where the public can vote on their favorites. Whoever posts the top vote-getter will win a complimentary registration to the 2016 USA Rice Outlook Conference in Memphis, Tennessee this December.

  • National Rice Month Scholarship Contest Gets Major Makeover

    by Colleen Klem | Sep 02, 2016
    Take your best shot
     COMM- NRM Scholly 160902

    ARLINGTON, VA – The annual National Rice Month (NRM) Scholarship contest has received a major update this year, and while the focus is the same – creating awareness for U.S.-grown rice – the methods are moving into the 21st Century.

    “The reality is we live in the age where almost everyone has a camera in their pocket, and in some cases, those cameras are more powerful and advanced than the cameras used to create some of our favorite Hollywood classics,” said Michael Klein, vice president of Marketing, Communications, & Domestic Promotion for USA Rice.  “Image-centric social media platforms are driving communication today, and we use photos and videos throughout National Rice Month.  We thought it was high time we brought a little of that to the scholarship contest.”

    Scholarship contest entrants are encouraged to use video and photography to tell the story of U.S. grown rice.  Creative students can also use PowerPoint, Prezi, or any visual presentation tool, so long as the total run time of the piece does not exceed three minutes.

    High school graduating students from rice-growing states -- Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas -- are eligible for the three scholarship prizes, sponsored by Dow AgroSciences, totaling $8,500. 

    The grand-prize winner will receive a $4,000 scholarship and a trip with a chaperone this December to the awards ceremony at the 2016 USA Rice Outlook Conference in Memphis, Tennessee.  The second-place winner will receive $3,000 scholarship, and third-place $1,500.

    Contest entries will be judged on creativity, quality, popularity, and effectiveness in promoting U.S.-grown rice, NRM, and the importance of rice in the student’s state.  Sample topics include:  rice production, nutrition, sustainability, and marketing/promotion.

    “We are thrilled Dow AgroSciences is again sponsoring this scholarship program,” says USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward.  “National Rice Month is a time for America to salute its rice farmers and everyone involved in the U.S. rice industry, and we can’t wait to see how creative students get with their entries for the revamped scholarship contest.”

    Entries are due October 31. 

    For more information and to submit an entry, visit the NRM scholarship page​.

     

  • P.F. Chang’s Films a Summer Blockbuster in Arkansas Rice Country

    by Deborah Willenborg | Jun 16, 2016
    Moving in for the close-up
    PFC-Video,-Dow-Brantley
    ENGLAND & NEWPORT, AR -- Flying high over Dow Brantley’s farm, a camera drone takes in the bird’s-eye view before swooping down at a high speed to hover over the bright green tillers like a dragonfly on steroids.  Brantley stands in a nearby paddy, surrounded by camera equipment and lighting reflectors, patiently explaining for the third - or maybe the thirteenth time - the life cycle of a rice plant.  
     
    Twenty-four hours later, on her family’s farm in Newport, Jennifer James is participating in an on-camera interview on the patio of her duck camp talking about rice production on her farm.  In the distance, GoPros mounted on a set of dirt pans record the distribution of soil based on a computerized plan that maximizes irrigation efficiency on a new field being readied for planting.  Today the camera drone sails over grain bins and levees, and zooms along a reservoir, creating a long line of ripples in the clear, blue water glistening in the afternoon sun.

    These “Hollywood comes to Arkansas” scenes are not the makings of a new reality TV show but part of a unique video project showcasing U.S. rice farming.  Restaurant industry leader P.F. Chang’s is creating a series of documentary-style videos to highlight the story behind the U.S.-grown grain that is integral to so many of the dishes featured on their menu.

    USA Rice Director of Domestic Promotion Katie Maher explains: “To mark last September’s National Rice Month we partnered with P.F. Chang’s on the RiceGiving campaign, a charitable program that donated more than 100,000 pounds of rice to U.S. hunger relief and focused awareness on the U.S.-grown rice in every P.F. Chang’s restaurant.  This year P.F. Chang’s is placing a deeper focus on the sourcing and stories behind their ingredients by making live action videos to share the beauty and artistry of farming to further tell the story of the food they serve and where it comes from.”

    “Farm to Wok™ has been our food philosophy since the day we opened.  It’s been our story – and now we are telling it,” said Dwayne Chambers, P.F. Chang’s chief marketing officer.  “Many guests don’t know that every one of our restaurants has a scratch kitchen.  This means our chefs are preparing food fresh every day – chopping vegetables, hand rolling sushi, and crafting handmade cocktails from fresh squeezed fruits.  We want to share the stories of the people who make this possible.”

    The U.S. rice video is one of many in a series of P.F. Chang’s videos highlighting different ingredients and their natural source, including green onions, honey, and ginger.  P.F. Chang’s plans to debut their video about local rice farms this September in celebration and support of National Rice Month.

    “I enjoy promoting U.S.-grown rice any way I can and if this video helps spread the word, I’m in,” said James.  “The fact that P.F. Chang’s, a household name with a great reputation, sources all of their rice locally from U.S. farmers is so important and I appreciate them wanting to share our story with their customers.  It’s proof that their commitment to the integrity of their ingredients and the food they share with guests is real.”
  • Rice Scholarship Winner Promotes Health, Budget Benefits of Rice

    by Lee Brinckley | Dec 14, 2015
    From left: USA Rice CEO Betsy Ward; grand prize winner Haven McElhanon; and Leslie Rodgers
    with Dow AgroSciences
    nrm-scholly
    NEW ORLEANS, LA – At last Friday’s USA Rice Outlook Conference Awards Luncheon, Haven McElhanon of Forrest City, Arkansas, took home the 2015 USA Rice Federation National Rice Month Scholarship, sponsored by Dow AgroSciences.  As the grand prize winner, she received a $4,000 scholarship and a trip here to attend the conference.

    McElhanon’s initiative, “Rice – a Health Happy Hand,” touted the health benefits of budget-friendly rice, which she promoted through classroom visits and community events, spreading rice information, and recipes.  She also enlisted support from a local judge who signed a proclamation to make September Arkansas Rice Month.

    McElhanon is the daughter of Dana Crisp and Steve McElhanon, and is part of a fifth-generation farming family in Arkansas.  While rice production has always been part of her community, she learned more about its importance while conducting rice promotions and serving as Miss St. Francis County Rice 2015.

    “In spreading the news about rice and its nutritional value, I became interested in pursuing a degree in nutrition upon attending college in the fall of 2016,” says McElhanon, who is a senior at Palestine/Wheatley High School.  “I hope my efforts have made a difference in my community where so many suffer from poverty and poor health as a result of diet.”

    To apply for the scholarship, students were required to develop a promotional program in their local community that highlights U.S.-grown rice as part of National Rice Month in September.  The second- and third-place winners are Mary Katherine Swindoll of Hernando, Mississippi, and Clay Parker, of Carlisle, Arkansas, respectively.

    “During the past seven years of Dow AgroSciences sponsoring the National Rice Month Scholarship, we have been impressed with the students’ passion and effort they put into promoting rice in their communities,” says Leslie Rodgers, a crop protection representative with Dow AgroSciences, who presented the award.  “These applicants are our next generation of producers, teachers, and agriculture advocates.”
  • U.S.-Grown Rice Earns New “Likes”

    by Colleen Klem | Nov 10, 2015
    What's not to like?
     DP- US Grown Rice Earns New Likes 151110

    ARLINGTON, VA -- Eight major grocery chains with more than 1,200 store locations in 23 states have used USA Rice messages and recipes to promote U.S.-grown rice to their customers this fall.  Overall, promotion activities by these stores earned USA Rice an additional 3.9 million impressions among consumers during September and October.

    “We were beyond thrilled to get such a positive response to our program this fall,” said Katie Maher, director, domestic promotion programs. “These numbers are especially impressive because USA Rice did not pay for any of the partnership activities. Each month we see growth in this program and expand to new stores and audiences.”

    USA Rice recipe cards were distributed through Big Y, Giant Eagle, Meijer’s, and Skogen’s Festival Foods to more than 1 million shoppers during September as a National Rice Month (NRM) promotion. As an extra effort, Meijer, Giant Eagle, Jewel Osco, Raley’s, and Big Y stores used Twitter and Facebook to link consumers to recipes and reached a combined 1.8 million viewers through social media.

    Redner’s featured rice in the September/October issue of their HealthCents newsletter. A full-page article titled “Reach for Rice” told readers how to select the best type of rice for their dish and passed along nutrition facts on each type along with a USA Rice recipe. The newsletter reaches more than 30,000 shoppers in-store and online.

    Dietitian blogs were also a popular tool with supermarkets. Jewel Osco posted information and graphics from USA Rice’s Healthy Rice Bowls materials to more than 150,000 readers. “Tasty and Healthy Options with Whole Grains” was the title of the blog post from Lowes Foods’ dietitian in October. The post featured USA Rice’s consumer infographic 10 Reasons to Eat Rice Grown in the USA. Raley’s Season Blog blog promoted the infographic and shared two recipes perfect for California shoppers looking for locally grown products.

  • Healthy Rice Recipes Headline Promotions

    by Deborah Willenborg | Nov 06, 2015
    Weis-Healthy-Bites-Magazine-Cover
    ARLINGTON, VA -- Supermarket dietitians in two stores, Weis and ShopRite, based National Rice Month (NRM) promotions on healthy recipes featuring U.S.-grown rice.  Szechuan Beef Stir-Fried Rice was pictured on the cover of the Weis’ Healthy Bites magazine with an accompanying article called “Ready, Set, Stir-Fry.”  The publication, which was circulated to more than 100,000 customers in all store locations during September, is archived digitally for online users and the article with the recipe was posted on Weis Markets’ blog reaching an additional 93,000 readers.

    ShopRite stores throughout New England participated in an “event in a box” promotion.  Dietitians used USA Rice resources including the NRM logo, USA Rice recipe cards, and Think Rice messages to conduct in-store demonstrations.  Customers sampled USA Rice’s Tropical Wild Rice Salad during the demonstrations and took home recipe cards.  ShopRite also used Facebook to further its reach promoting recipes to more than 235,000 additional shoppers.

    “Once again our relationships with supermarket dietitians has paid off ten-fold,” said Katie Maher, USA Rice director of domestic promotion.  “We continue to be impressed with this partnership and the reach that dietitians have both in-store and online.  Both chains reached more than 200,000 consumers and because the work was done through dietitians, it gave rice a healthy stamp of approval.”
  • Kroger Dietitians Enjoy Healthy Competition

    by Colleen Klem | Nov 04, 2015
    DP-Kroger Dietitians Enjoy Healthy Competition

    ARLINGTON, VA -- To celebrate National Rice Month (NRM) Kroger used its own employee pool to spread the word about U.S.-grown rice.  The supermarket chain, which has more than 2,500 stores in 34 states, encouraged staff to participate in a rice recipe contest.  Employees shared pictures of their plates with the hashtag #ricecreations through social media.

    “The NRM recipe contest was a fun, creative way to educate employees at stores throughout the country about the versatility and health benefits of rice,” said Katie Maher, USA Rice director of domestic promotion.  “Kroger has 80,000 employees and we reached them in a way that keeps rice top of mind when making recommendations to customers and of course, they are shoppers too.”

    Throughout NRM, Kroger’s corporate dietitian used social media to post cooking tips, USA Rice recipes, and nutrition facts about rice while promoting the contest through the company’s employee portal.  One post read, “When you eat US rice, you’re eating a sustainable grain! US rice farmers protect & preserve natural resources. Remember to post your #ricecreations photo for a chance to win $100 and a rice cooker.”

    More than 100 entries were received and the contest was so successful that the company extended the promotion for an additional two weeks.  Winners for the five best entries were awarded prizes of gift cards and rice cookers.

    “Encouraging families to cook with U.S.-grown rice is beneficial in every way, and our associates really enjoyed this messaging,” said a Kroger corporate dietitian.  “We saw creative dishes and the exchange of ideas through our internal social media platform.  All in all, this promotion was a success for everyone involved.” 

  • Giant and Stop & Shop SRDs Get Social

    by Deborah Willenborg | Oct 23, 2015
    Take a tip from a nutrition specialist
    Stop&Shop-Circular,-Sept-2015
    ARLINGTON, VA -- USA Rice’s partnership with supermarket dietitians (SRDs) continues to pay off in big ways.  SRDs in Giant and Stop & Shop supermarkets throughout the East Coast and New England celebrated National Rice Month by promoting U.S.-grown rice to their customers using social media-based communications.

    East Coast chain Giant used Twitter to disseminate rice recipes and encouraged followers to shop for U.S.-grown rice to complete their dishes.  The store also started a Pinterest board passing along recipes and cooking tips and then promoted this page through their social media channels.  Together the social media efforts of Giant reached more than 250,000 consumers, and rice was promoted as the “Nutritionist Featured Item” in 12 stores.  SRDs used the NRM logo and recipe cards as part of the promotion.

    Sister company, Stop & Shop, also used social media to promote the benefits of rice by tweeting and creating a Pinterest board for their customers reaching more than 300,000 followers, and ran placements in the “Dietitian’s Corner” of their weekly circular available in both print and digital versions.  The digital version of the publication receives more than 130,000 unique visitors per month.

    “We know that dietitians use social media as a primary method of communication with their clients and store customers and these programs were designed to leverage those strong relationships,” said Katie Maher, USA Rice director of domestic promotion programs.  “Social media, in combination with in-store and web-based materials, had a huge impact on increasing awareness of U.S.-grown rice during National Rice Month.”
  • H-E-B Dietitians Report National Rice Month Promotion Success

    by Deborah Willenborg | Oct 16, 2015
    Sept 2015 HEB My Health  Wellness Magazine
    ARLINGTON, VA -- Supermarket dietitians (SRD) at H-E-B stores celebrated National Rice Month during September with an integrated promotion campaign that included the store magazine, text messages to consumers, and recipe demonstrations.

    “When it comes to spreading the word about U.S-grown rice and building awareness for the industry, H-E-B is a valuable partner.  The supermarket does a fantastic job of reaching shoppers across a sampling of media with print, online, and in-store demos,” said Katie Maher, USA Rice director of domestic promotion.

    U.S.-grown rice was prominently featured in the September issue of the store’s My Health & Wellness Magazine, with a circulation of 695,000 shoppers and an additional reach of more than 540,000 online visitors.  Readers were encouraged to Think Rice with a two week meal plan that included four rice recipes.  The “News to Chews” section of the magazine focused on the health benefits, versatility, and convenience of cooking rice at home

    As a second prong in the promotion campaign, H-E-B’s healthy text message channel put out four weekly text messages to 80,000 subscribers.  Messages were derived from the SRD toolkit and promoted the Grown in the USA label.  One message read, “Take your taste buds on an adventure!  Enjoy global and exotic cuisine with locally-grown rice.  Try U.S. grown jasmine, basmati, black, and red rice.”

    Recipes from USA Rice were used for in-store demonstrations at select locations and customers were given recipe cards with the Think Rice logo during the tasting.


  • A Picture and a Post – Worth a Thousand Words

    by Deborah Willenborg | Oct 14, 2015
    Think Rice with the Gerard Family
    of Cape Girardeau, Missouri
    Blake Gerard and Family
    ARLINGTON, VA -- Fields of gold extending into the horizon, combines rolling across vast acres of farm land, and diverse wildlife drifting in and out of view among swaying stalks of rice -- these characteristic signs of harvest are familiar to rice farmers, but are foreign to most Americans who are far removed from the agricultural industry.  Most people don’t even realize rice is grown here.  During the recent harvest, pictures and videos from farmers in all six rice-producing states flooded social media sites, and with consumers’ increasing interest in understanding where and how their food is grown, USA Rice saw an educational opportunity to use these images to provide an exclusive glimpse into the world of rice farming in the United States during National Rice Month.

    USA Rice compiled images of harvest submitted by members and shared them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to help consumers visualize the journey of rice from farm to table.  This effort was aided by a new initiative that put the spotlight on a different rice farmer each week.  The “Meet Your Rice Farmer” posts shared fun facts about the farmer, including a favorite family rice recipe.

    “Social media provides the public with a unique opportunity to gain an inside perspective on what life is like on a rice farm just by scrolling through pictures using their smart phone,” said Michael Klein, USA Rice vice president of communications and marketing.  “A fleeting glance at an image of a family on their farm has the ability to resonate with consumers, who will hopefully make the connection that the people who grow their food are also their friends, family, and neighbors.”

    During National Rice Month, USA Rice additionally shared graphics highlighting the nutritional benefits of rice and the economic contribution rice farmers make to the agricultural industry.  All graphics were accompanied by text reinforcing the many positive attributes of the rice industry and encouraged consumers to continue supporting U.S. rice farmers.

    If you have any pictures from this year’s rice season that you would like to share on USA Rice’s social media platforms, please email cklem@usarice.com.
  • Hy-Vee Dietitians Urge Shoppers to Think Rice

    by Deborah Willenborg | Oct 01, 2015
    On-air with Hy-Vee SRD
    Hy-Vee NRM TV Segement
    ARLINGTON, VA -- This September, USA Rice partnered with supermarket registered dietitians (SRDs) at Hy-Vee, a chain with 236 supermarkets located throughout Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.  All month long, Hy-Vee SRDs spread the word about U.S.-grown rice and National Rice Month (NRM) online, in stores, and through local media outlets.

    In the September issue of Hy-Vee’s Healthy Bites e-newsletter, USA Rice’s Cranberry Pecan Rice Pilaf was featured as a ‘Dietitian Recipe of the Month.’  The newsletter promoted NRM as well as the health benefits and culinary versatility of rice to more than 90,000 subscribers and was also published on the Hy-Vee website that receives more than 800,000 unique visitors per month.  

    “Since Hy-Vee has an in-store dietitian at each of their locations, we made sure they received USA Rice’s recipe cards and SRD toolkits to use while interacting with shoppers,” said Paul Galvani, chairman of the USA Rice Retail Subcommittee.  “One dietitian even created a short Facebook video right from the rice aisle – she called out NRM and discussed the health and affordability of U.S. rice.”

    As part of the NRM promotion, the Hy-Vee corporate dietitian team provided all in-store dietitians with a ‘Think Rice for Family Meals and Sides’ media pitch to use with local media outlets.  Several news article placements and one local TV segment called attention to NRM and featured content from USA Rice’s SRD toolkit.  All together, these placements exposed more than one million consumers to the health, economic, and culinary benefits of U.S.-grown rice.

    “Hy-Vee is a food retailer known for its health and wellness initiatives, so partnering with their dietitians to promote U.S. rice was quite valuable,” said Galvani.  “This is just one example of how USA Rice partners with retail grocers to communicate our message.  Hy-Vee dietitians are trusted champions of U.S.-grown rice and we thank them for their support and promotion of National Rice Month."
  • Abraham Recognizes Rice in House Floor Speech

    by Deborah Willenborg | Sep 30, 2015
    Rep. Abraham gives U.S. rice a big hand
    Rep. Ralph Abraham celebrates NRM
    WASHINGTON, DC – Yesterday, Congressman Ralph Abraham (R-LA), a great friend to the U.S. rice industry and Member of the House Committee on Agriculture, formally recognized National Rice Month during a floor speech here.
     
    Standing next to a large photo of rice plants, Abraham said “I want to pay a special tribute to the hard working men and women who produce rice on their family farms and I’d also like to recognize those who mill and market rice, all the suppliers and buyers.”  He fittingly finished his comment by thanking one of the most important sectors of the industry, “…all the consumers who make rice an essential part of their diet.”

    Abraham’s Congressional District, LA-05, is the largest row crop district in the nation and the second largest rice-growing district in Louisiana with a five-year average of more than 113,900 acres of rice grown with an estimated $119 million farm-gate value.

    Congressman Abraham will be a featured speaker at this year’s USA Rice Outlook Conference being held in New Orleans from December 9-11.
  • Honoring Rice on the House Floor

    by Deborah Willenborg | Sep 25, 2015
    Gone in 60 seconds
    Doug LaMalfa on CSPAN
    WASHINGTON, DC -- Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), who serves on the House Committee on Agriculture, took to a lectern on the U.S. House floor yesterday to deliver a quick but poignant speech about the great contributions rice makes to the United States.

    “Today I want to pay a special tribute to the hardworking farmers, millers, merchants, the suppliers, and consumers who make rice not only such a wholesome food, but an important part of our economy,” LaMalfa said.

    LaMalfa, a fourth generation rice farmer and two-term Member of the House, has been a good friend to the U.S. rice community.  His Congressional District, CA-01, is the second largest rice-growing district in California with a five year average of more than 134,000 acres of rice grown and an estimated $201.4 million farm-gate value.