TOKYO – A Japanese manufacturer of deli products is using U.S. medium grain at a retail store they operate at Tokyo Station, boiling the rice to make salad-style rice bowls. USA Rice conducted a taste-testing menu presentation for the manufacturer last year to introduce the versatility of U.S. medium grain rice for various menu ideas. Based on the manufacturer’s request, another menu presentation is scheduled specifically for recipes featuring boiled rice. The manufacturer will restart sales of their deli products using U.S. medium grain in September, and USA Rice is also discussing possible joint promotions to introduce their bowl items to Tokyo consumers.
The strategic message of the recipes is to promote boiling rice without using a rice cooker, similar to cooking pasta or vegetables, which is not a common method of cooking rice in Japan. A USA Rice consumer survey conducted in spring 2022 already confirmed that Japanese consumers are very interested in the idea of boiling U.S. medium grain for salad and soup-based recipes. Because it does not require a rice cooker, this cooking method also offers more flexibility for restaurants to utilize multiple kinds of rice on their menus.
Domestically produced short grain rice is not well suited for soups and salads, which presents an opportunity for U.S. imports to access a unique market niche. The U.S. is the largest supplier of rice to Japan, which is U.S. rice’s number one milled grain market in terms of value ($211 million in the first 6 months of 2022, compared to $151 million at the same juncture last year).