USA Rice Promotions: A Hit in Haiti

Apr 30, 2015
PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI- The island nation of Haiti, a little more than 1,000 miles from the United States, has long been an important market for U.S. rice. However, in December 2012, the Government of Haiti signed an agreement with the government of  Vietnam allowing the purchase of  
300,000 MT of milled long grain rice; at that time, the U.S. had a 97 percent market share in Haiti. 
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In 2013, a total of 66,000 MT of Viet rice was imported to Haiti, displacing U.S. rice and reducing our market share to 78 percent.   
 
During the summer of 2013, USA Rice commenced a promotions program here with the goal of returning U.S. rice exports to their prior level. While there is a price differential between Vietnamese and U.S. rice (typically $3-$5 per 25kg bag), Haitians have shown their desire for good quality rice. 
 
"Viet rice, while cheaper, has a bad image - if it is not consumed right after it's cooked, then it becomes very hard and difficult to eat. American rice does not have that reputation," says Ives-Marie Channel, USA Rice's marketing representation in Haiti. "USA Rice promotions in Haiti stress the high quality, reliability and excellent cooking characteristics of U.S. rice, or as many Haitians know it, Miami rice."
 
After compiling an extensive list of the rice trade in Haiti and consulting with the major players, USA Rice began conducting 1,000 radio promotions and four 15-minute radio programs which discussed rice in depth.    
 
The most visible activity last year were TV and radio spots broadcast during the World Cup. USA Rice broadcast 5,166 spots on 10 radio stations and 1,760 commercials were broadcasted on 6 television stations.    
 
In 2014, Haiti brought in less than 20,000 MT of Viet rice and the U.S. market share rose back up to 96 percent. There have not been any reports of Viet rice imports into Haiti in 2015 thus far. 
 
USA Rice is continuing its successful promotions in 2015, including sponsoring a local soccer team which will place U.S. rice posters in their stadiums, strengthening the positive image of U.S. rice, encouraging continued consumption, and protecting U.S. market share. 
 
Haiti consistently ranks among the top three markets for U.S. rice and the largest market for milled rice. Haiti was the second largest single destination for U.S. rice last year (361,578 MT) and the third largest value market ($185 million). 
 
Contact: Sarah Moran (703) 236-1457