Consumer Research Pinpoints Opportunity in Haiti Market

Woman dishes up white rice at USA Rice food truck
When word of mouth includes a generous serving of U.S. rice
Mar 25, 2020
HAITI -- USA Rice recently conducted market research here including nearly 1,400 interviews with consumers and more than 320 interviews with businesses from the hotel and restaurant (HRI) sector in order to understand the challenges and opportunities that affect rice consumption.  For both groups, accessibility and price are the top reasons Haitians choose American rice.

While availability and tradition were the two main factors when it comes to deciding which foods to eat, nearly half of consumers state that rice is the most important part of their meal on a daily basis.  Local rice is the preferred origin, but it is often expensive and not always available; American rice is the first preferred imported rice.  Twenty percent of consumers eat American rice every day.

“In recent years, we’ve seen a big increase in pasta consumption, particularly for breakfast, as it is a cheap alternative and a local company has increased production,” said Asiha Grigsby, USA Rice director of international promotion.  “This year, we will devote some of our marketing efforts to positioning U.S. rice as a cost effective and tasty alternative for breakfast.”

The majority of consumers (66 percent) consume rice at midday and 31 percent of the time, it is American rice.  Nearly 90 percent of the surveyed restaurants served U.S. rice.

“Word of mouth seemed to be the most favored way to promote rice with 45 percent of respondents supporting it,” said Grigsby.  “Certainly radio ads, taste tasting activities, gastro fairs, social media, and public market promotions, which are activities we have done, are all related to the word of mouth strategy.  As soon as conditions permit, we will resume these promotions and also augment our social media presence over the coming year.”

Last year, more than $200 million of U.S. rice was shipped to Haiti, the largest long grain milled rice market for U.S. rice.  USA Rice has conducted promotions here for the past seven years.