• 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.”

  • U.S. Rice Fits Top Food Trends for 2016

    by Lee Brinckley | Jan 15, 2016
    ARLINGTON, VA – Every year the National Restaurant Association surveys professional chefs to determine what the hot trends will be on restaurant menus across the country, and right now nothing is hotter than local food grown under environmentally friendly, sustainable conditions.

    “U.S.-grown rice has a great story to tell when it comes to food sourcing and sustainability,” says Katie Maher, USA Rice’s director of domestic promotion.  “This new survey says that chefs are creating dishes inspired by flavors from across the globe but they still want to source their food locally, and U.S.-grown rice is a perfect fit for their menus.”

    Hand-in-hand with locally grown is the “know your food” trend and also food that’s free from processing.  Maher says, “This is another opportunity to shine the spotlight on U.S. rice and promote our family farmers and the nutritious goodness of their crop, while reminding consumers of the U.S. rice industry’s sustainability story.”
    Other top 2016 food trends involve health.  An overwhelming number of restaurant patrons are looking for gluten-free food with no GMOs.  Again, U.S. rice is the obvious answer!  Consequently 58 percent of chefs surveyed said they see the role of bowl-style dining expanding as customers appreciate being able to customize meals, based on dietary needs, with a combination of rice, vegetables, and lean protein.

    Finally, at the top of the survey’s list of “Items to Try in 2016” – red rice.  Maher concluded, “People have embraced brown rice as a healthful whole grain and now they’re looking at other options like black rice, red rice, and wild rice blends.  Today’s consumer is showing an increased willingness to try foods that are new and different, and finding that the many types of U.S. rice offer a wealth of choices when creating innovative, nutritious dishes.”

    When asked about this year’s survey results, Fred Zaunbrecher, a Louisiana rice farmer and chair of the USA Rice Domestic Promotion Committee, said, “It’s always interesting to learn what people think is the next ‘new’ thing.  The fact that folks are actively looking for more bold, exotic flavors is definitely food for thought for our industry.”
  • 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."
  • Dietitians' Top Pick: USA Rice’s Refreshed Toolkit

    by Deborah Willenborg | Aug 18, 2015
    Resources galore
    ARLINGTON, VA -- This year, USA Rice updated its retail dietitian toolkit as part of the Think Rice rebranding and the resource is now available on thinkrice.com.  These materials are designed to provide retail dietitians with reasons, recipes, and tools to recommend U.S. rice.  It also helps increase visibility of U.S.-grown rice in supermarket customer outreach including:  blogs, newsletters, social media, in-store radio ads, store publications, and in-store activities.  

    “Nearly forty-six percent of retailers publish health and wellness newsletters and 90 percent provide healthy recipes to shoppers,” said Paul Galvani, USA Rice Retail Subcommittee chairman.  “Retail dietitians are often the decision makers behind which foods are highlighted in these publications, so it’s important that we regularly remind them and make it easy for them to Think Rice and this toolkit does just that.”

    The newly designed toolkit contains several consumer handouts that highlight recipes, nutritional information, U.S. rice types and varieties, and steps to building a healthy rice bowl, along with tips for choosing, storing, and preparing rice.  Retail dietitians also have access to sample social media posts and ideas for promoting U.S. rice in retail and local media communications.

    Yesterday, a retail dietitian from the 200 store Midwest chain Meijer prepared USA Rice’s Greek Rice Stuffed Tomatoes, a recipe featured in the toolkit, live on a local TV news program.   The Meatless Monday segment focuses on healthy back-to-school dinners for busy families and features U.S.-grown rice on-set.  WDRB News in the Morning on Fox 41 in Louisville, Kentucky has a viewership of 24,000 and the segment and recipe are also posted on the WDRB.com website which receives more than 570,000 unique visitors per month.

    “This TV feature is one of the added benefits of reaching this influential audience, and shows how supermarket dietitians reach the consumer beyond the grocery aisle as a credible, third party spokesperson for rice,” added Galvani.

    Galvani said USA Rice regularly shares information with a network of dietitians at 34 retailers nationwide.
  • Food & Nutrition Bloggers Inspire 1.4 Million to Think Rice

    by User Not Found | May 08, 2015
    This Mujadara dish will have you thinking rice at dinner tonight!
    DP- Recipe Redux
    ARLINGTON, VA – Today, USA Rice announced the winners of the “Think Rice for National Nutrition Month” recipe challenge for food and nutrition bloggers.  USA Rice launched the contest with Recipe Redux, a monthly recipe challenge founded by registered dietitians and open to a network of nutrition enthusiasts who are reinventing the idea of healthy eating with a taste-first approach.

    Participants were required to create an original recipe using U.S.-grown rice and feature their recipe in a blog post with information about why their readers should Think Rice for National Nutrition Month and all year long.  Fifty bloggers participated in the challenge with a combined blog reach of more than 600,000 unique visitors per month and an additional 870,000 monthly impressions from Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest posts. 

    “Recipe Redux enabled us to engage with influential food and nutrition bloggers, get them cooking with U.S. rice, and educate them on important U.S.-grown rice messages that they in turn share with their readers,” said Katie Maher, manager of domestic promotion programs.  “We also now own fifty new, on-trend recipes and with beautiful accompanying photography to add to our database and use throughout our programs.”

    The Grand Prize winner will receive a $1,000 American Express gift card and an Aroma rice cooker; and two Runners-Up will each receive a $250 American Express gift card and an Aroma rice cooker.  Below are the winning recipes:

       • Grand Prize: Mujadara with Harissa Tomato Sauce, Parsley Pesto & Lemon Tahini Sauce 
       • Runner-Up: Rice Frittata with Caramelized Tomatoes, Asparagus & Smoked Gouda 
       • Runner-Up: Blueberry Rice Milk “Kiribath” 

    “I wanted to highlight rice’s versatility in regards to different cuisines,” said Grand Prize winner and registered dietitian, Rachael Hartley.  “It is one of the most widely consumed foods in the world! Think sushi in Japan, arroz con pollo in South America, risotto in Italy, biryani in India, congee in China, gallo pinto in Central America, paella in Spain…you get the point…so, I came up with this gussied up version of mujadara, a traditional Middle Eastern dish of lentils cooked with brown rice, topped with caramelized onion. It’s an incredibly simple dish.”

    “Selecting just three winners was a really tough decision because all of the entries were so creative and we were impressed with the representation of rice types included brown, U.S. basmati, U.S. black japonica, and wild, to name just a few,” said Maher.  
    Maher said another value of the contest and publicity surrounding it is that it helps raise general awareness about U.S.-grown rice and its versatility.

    “Consumers are always looking for new recipes, and we know from our research that they are often unaware of authentic ethnic varieties grown right here in the U.S.  This contest helps us spread the word,” she added.

    Contact: Colleen Klemczewski (703) 236-1446 
  • Think Rice Education Program Earns High Marks from Teachers

    by User Not Found | May 06, 2015
    Welcome back, rice!
    Mr. Kotter
    ARLINGTON, VA – In honor of March National Nutrition Month, USA Rice distributed the Think Rice educational lesson plan to more than 2,800 elementary schools in rice-growing counties across the six states.  USA Rice partnered with the award-winning curriculum experts at Young Minds Inspired (YMI) to develop the program to meet national standards for 3rd – 6th grade students in social studies, science, and nutrition.  As of mid-April, the program reached an estimated 9,000 teachers and 330,000 students and families.

    “Teachers were encouraged to return comment cards measuring use, effectiveness, and appeal of the program, and we received a 32 percent response rate, which is right on par with other YMI education plans,” said Katie Maher, USA Rice’s manager of domestic promotion. “What’s even better, is that there were 500 randomly distributed surveys and 74 percent of those were returned, which is well above average.”

    Ninety-seven percent of teachers rated the program’s educational effectiveness as “good-excellent.”  The Think Rice kit contained three student activities, a classroom poster, and a teacher’s guide.  The student activities covered topics including: the history of rice in America, the environmental benefits of growing and eating U.S. rice, and the important role U.S. rice plays in a balanced diet.  

    Of the teachers who received the materials, 82 percent used (or plan to use) the Think Rice materials, 89 percent displayed the wall poster, and 87 percent shared (or plan to share) the program with other teachers.  

    The program materials were downloaded more than 1,300 times from YMI’s website and will be available indefinitely so teachers from all around the country can use the activities.

    Below are a few quotes from teacher comment cards and surveys:
       • “It’s very important for our kids to know where rice comes from and its nutritional importance. Thank you.” – CA teacher
       • “Wonderful program. Kids enjoyed it. Will use it next year too!” – AR teacher
       • “Enjoyed the poster. Its message is clear and has great information to share.” – MO teacher
       • “Good lesson because it ties in nicely with nutrition and MyPlate too!” – MS teacher
       • “Great information. This is a great way to get children interested.” – LA teacher
       • “An excellent program.  My co-teachers enjoyed it as well. Thank you.”  -- TX teacher

    “It’s great to hear that the Think Rice program is a beneficial tool for teachers to integrate into the curriculum,” said Byron Holmes, chairman of the USA Rice Nutrition Subcommitee.  “This is something we can use for years to come because teachers have confirmed its educational quality and because it covers important topics for the U.S. rice industry, which are coincidentally topics of great interest to teachers and students.”

    Contact:  Deborah Willenborg (703) 236-1444
  • USA Rice Fuels Local Charity Race

    by User Not Found | May 04, 2015
    Rice wins every time!
    FALLS CHURCH, VA --  USA Rice participated in a charity race at a local high school here to help support the school’s athletic program.  More than 400 adults and children took part in the annual “Raider 5K Run” that raised an estimated $10,000 for the community.

    USA Rice used the new Think Rice logo on t-shirts all the runners received.  In addition, staff was on-hand to pass out Think Rice-branded rice marshmallow treats to the finishers.

    “Not only was this a fun event on a beautiful spring day, but we literally reminded runners that they should ‘Think Rice’ – it’s a complex carbohydrate that helps fuel the body and is a great food for athletes,” said Katie Maher, USA Rice’s manager of domestic promotion who also ran the race.

    Contact:  Michael Klein (703) 236-1458
  • USA Rice Inspires Young Minds to 'Think Rice'

    by Temp 2 Temp 2 | Jan 27, 2015
    ARLINGTON, VA -- This week, teachers at more than 2,800 elementary schools in rice producing counties across the six states will receive the new Think Rice educational lesson plan.  Developed with the award-winning curriculum experts at Young Minds Inspired (YMI), this education kit is all about U.S.-grown rice and meets national standards for 3rd - 6th grade students in social studies, science, and nutrition.
    "From the focus groups, we learned that many people assume rice comes from Asia and they're unaware of the connection between rice growing and conservation," said Byron Holmes, an Arkansas rice farmer and USA Rice Federation Nutrition Subcommittee chairman.  "The lesson plans address these areas and also reinforce how U.S. rice can help families meet MyPlate healthy eating guidelines."
    The Think Rice kit contains three student activities, a classroom poster, and a teacher's guide.  Students will learn how rice growing has contributed to American history since colonial times, and how today's U.S. rice farmers not only help sustain wetland habitats, but also help reduce carbon emissions by providing a close-to-home source of good nutrition.  There is also a recipe-building activity to demonstrate the versatility of U.S. rice and its role in a balanced diet.
    "The education programs we do across the rice states are great events with encouraging results, and we will continue to invest in them," said Holmes.  "This program amplifies our reach to thousands of students who will in turn go home and teach their families about U.S.-grown rice."
    Teachers are encouraged to use the Think Rice education kit during March National Nutrition Month and complete a survey to measure use, effectiveness, and appeal of the program.  The materials will be available indefinitely on YMI's website (http://ymiclassroom.com/lesson-plans/usarice/) so teachers from all around the country can download and use the activities.
    These new rice resources and the U.S. Rice in the Classroom
    pamphlet are available for USA Rice members to use in their own student outreach as well. 
    Contact:  Katie Maher (703) 236-1453