Ramadan Raises the U.S. Rice Profile

Woman offers plate filled with rice as man and young child look on
Ramadan, Eid mubarak
May 03, 2019
JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA – To increase U.S. rice sales in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, USA Rice initiated a promotional campaign here in mid-April together with Abu Bint, a well-known local U.S. rice brand.  The activities focus on the period right before and during the time of the Holy month of Ramadan (May 5 through June 4 this year), the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, during which Muslims fast during the daytime and eat only one meal (the ‘suhoor’) just before dawn, and another (the ‘iftar’) after sunset.  This period is a high rice consumption time, as rice is a main ingredient for the iftar meal, when families come together at sunset to celebrate and break their fasting for the day.  Additionally, it is tradition during the Holy Month for rice to be donated as charity to those in need, called “zakat,” further boosting consumption.  

To increase visibility and maximize the promotion’s impact, a mix of media activities are running, including advertising on a popular local radio show, as well as on several media elements such as outdoor billboards, shopping mall advertising panels, called “mupis,” and ads on “Jeddah´s Kingdom Tower,” two large LED screens displaying animated messaging about the high quality and wholesomeness of U.S. origin rice.  And for the first time, the Ramadan promotion will go beyond Jeddah to different cities in the west and south provinces of the Kingdom, including Jizan, Najran, Taif, and Khamis Mushayt.  Combined, the markets have a population of almost 5 million.

“We typically see an increase in sales of our Abu Bint U.S. rice brand during the month of Ramadan,” said Julio Campos, international markets manager at Ebro Foods.  “This period of the year is very important for local consumers as they like to eat together with their family and always want to have the best quality ingredients to create delicious, memorable meals.”

Point of sale promotions in the stores where consumers actually make their buying decisions are placed in selected Hyper Panda markets, the largest chain of hypermarkets in Saudi Arabia.  The call-for-action elements displayed on the stores’ rice aisles, ceiling banners, and light boxes, tout the ease of preparation and product consistency of U.S. rice.

“We appreciate the support of USA Rice in setting up a promotional campaign during Ramadan this year,” said Campos.  “From our past experience, sales always increase when supported with promotional activities not only at wholesale distribution but also in retail shops such as Panda where our Abu Bint U.S. rice is heavily promoted and consumers can easily recognize us.”

Saudi Arabia was the seventh largest export destination for U.S. rice in terms of value in 2018, importing 95,600 MT with a value of $74.1 million.