U.S. Rice Featured at Costco Stores in Japan

Woman wearing blue apron, hairnet, and visor stands behind metal cart handing out rice samples in paper cups
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Sep 10, 2019
KAWASAKI & SHINMISATO, JAPAN – Earlier this month, 20 of the 26 Costco outlets in Japan hosted in-store demonstrations featuring U.S. medium grain rice designed to highlight and promote the first-ever U.S. rice milled and packaged for retail sale here.

“I visited two Costco outlets near Toyko to observe the demos and it appeared that consumers there were very interested in U.S. rice,” said Yumi Kojima, the USA Rice contractor who manages promotions in Japan.  “Quite a few of the shoppers knew about California rice and, when offered a taste test of the U.S. medium grain, were impressed by the quality, flavor, and texture.”

The demonstrations targeted individual consumers as well as small “mom and pop” restauranteurs who shop at volume sellers like Costco.  

“Local foodservice rice users are frustrated with the government policy toward rice which incentivizes production of ‘premium’ varieties and rice for animal feed, but has left foodservice establishments clamoring for access to more reasonably priced rice,” said Kojima.  “Fortunately, U.S. medium grain fits their needs very well, not only in terms of price but also quality.”

Additional demonstrations at other retail chains featuring U.S. rice are planned for later this year.

Japan is the second largest market for U.S. rice based on value ($270 million in 2018), trailing only Mexico.