Canada Foodservice Professionals Tour Southern U.S. Rice Country
STUTTGART and ENGLAND, AR and NEW ORLEANS, LA -- (September 23, 2014) -- In an effort to increase rice sales to the foodservice industry in Canada, last week the USA Rice Federation hosted Canadian foodservice professionals and media on a tour through rice country in the southern United States.
The group included representatives from Aramark, a facilities management company; the Metro Toronto Convention Center, the largest convention center in Canada; and the Canadian Restaurant News, a publication which targets the foodservice industry.
The four-day tour offered the Canadians a holistic look at the U.S. rice industry, from seed to table.
In Arkansas, the group observed the harvest at rice farms in Stuttgart and England; toured packaging centers and mills at Riceland Foods and Producers Rice Mill; and, finally, got an overview of rice production at the University of Arkansas Rice Research & Extension Center.
The group also visited Russell Marine Group in New Orleans to learn about logistics and cargo inspection, and toured Eurofins and their analytical labs.
"The group was one of the most engaged I've ever had the opportunity to host at my farm," said Dow Brantley, Arkansas rice farmer and chairman of USA Rice. "They were interested in our whole process from farm to table. They had questions about food safety and quality, and I think they left feeling good about U.S. rice."
USA Rice has conducted marketing promotions in Canada for nearly two decades, but recent marketing activities have focused more on the foodservice sector, which is able to impact a larger audience (most recently see USA Rice Daily story, August 19, 2014).
"Participants were specifically selected because of their potential to supply U.S. rice to thousands of Canadians," said Virginia Zimm, USA Rice's marketing contractor in Canada. "This was a real eye-opening experience for everyone and I think we'll see some lasting benefits from this visit."
Last year, Canada was the United States' fourth largest rice export destination. The U.S. exported over 235,000 MT of rice to Canada in 2013, valued at $170 million. Exports for the first seven months this year are trending about 9 percent higher than last year.
Photo caption: The roots of a good relationship