Global Survey Validates USA Rice Programs; Provides Road Map

Jul 29, 2016
Taking stock
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WASHINGTON, DC -- USA Rice completed its first-ever global evaluation, where a third party assessed the effectiveness, validity, and importance of our international promotion programs.  A combination of consumer and trade surveys were conducted in order to gain a holistic view of some of our export markets. 

Nearly 1,000 consumer surveys were conducted in nine countries (Canada, Guatemala, Honduras, Haiti, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Turkey and the UK) and dozens of trade interviews were conducted via phone. 

While there were specific observations and recommendations for each country, on a global basis the findings illustrated the importance of rice in the consumer diet, as at least three-fifths of the respondents in each country indicated that they eat rice on a weekly basis.   The data indicates, however, that consumer knowledge of different ways in which rice can be used could be strengthened. 

Accordingly, when asked how many rice recipes they knew how to prepare at home, aside from Japan and Canada, the target market participants only knew about 3 to 6 ways in which to use rice.  These findings suggest that USA Rice should continue to conduct in-store demonstrations and cooking classes in order to educate consumers on the various ways in which rice can “easily/conveniently” be used in everyday meals, reinforcing the “versatility” message. 

The evaluation found that “health” messaging is very weak internationally and would be a great opportunity for the industry, as a means of fostering long-term growth. 

“More information should be given to us and to consumers about the health benefits of rice,” said a rice importer from Guatemala.  “We don’t know a lot of them and because rice is such a staple or basic product, it’s just something that people buy often.  They don’t think much about it because it’s a need.”

Also in line with global trends, professionals interviewed in most every country discussed the importance of “convenience,” as consumers are looking for “ready to eat” solutions such as microwave-ready packaging. 

“This very extensive document is a great way for us to get an outsiders view of our international promotion programs and validate many of our promotion activities,” said John Valpey, chairman of the USA Rice International Promotion Committee.  “This global evaluation will be available to all International Promotion Committees and Subcommittees for the purpose of considering relevant changes to our international activities as well as our Unified Export Strategy, a document we annually submit to USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service outlining our programs in detail.”