USA Rice Hosts Fifth Annual Medium Grain Cooking Contest in Japan

The first prize winner of USA Rice
It all starts with U.S. medium grain
Aug 08, 2017
TOKYO, JAPAN – For the fifth consecutive year, USA Rice held its premier promotional activity here culminating with a cooking contest featuring U.S. medium grain rice.  This year, 184 professional chefs participated in the restaurant and deli categories, and 395 student chefs took part in the day-long event highlighting the quality and versatility of U.S. medium grain rice.  

Six finalists from both the restaurant and deli categories competed in the final contest.  Restaurant chefs were tasked with creating a dish for a party or reception, while deli chefs were instructed to come up with a deli item to liven up a special event.  The winning restaurant entry was a Lobster and Seafood Ceviche with U.S. Medium Grain Salad and Coriander, and the winning deli entry was a U.S. Medium Grain and Diced Vegetables Salad served in a Mason jar.

“Promoting usage of U.S. origin rice at the professional level is a strategic move since most of the rice imported under the Simultaneous-Buy-Sell (SBS) system that enters the commercial market is used by the foodservice industry,” said Jim Guinn, director of USA Rice Asia Promotion Programs, who attended the event.  “In 2016, the demand for U.S. rice was unprecedented, setting records for both volume and market share of imports.”

Trade contacts indicate that both those records are likely to be broken this year, driven by several factors, including the quality and versatility of U.S. rice, the favorable price of U.S. rice compared to domestic varieties, and a Japanese government policy that incentivizes the production of super premium varieties and rice for feed, leaving a void in reasonably priced rice varieties favored by the foodservice industry.

“We also see a greater awareness of U.S. rice as a result of activities like the chefs contest that was reported on by mainstream media,” said Guinn.  "Self-initiated testing of U.S. rice by private companies and rice-related associations within Japan also is driving increased imports.”