The Survey Says: Health Professionals Provide Insight into Rice

Oct 25, 2016
This crowd loves rice
BOSTON, MA – Last week, at the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics annual Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE), USA Rice surveyed 230 health professionals to gain insight on rice attitudes and usage.  The good news is that health professionals are huge proponents of rice.  In fact, 98 percent of those in a position to make dietary recommendations, said they encourage their patients to include rice and rice products in their diet.  But their responses also shed light on education gaps and growth opportunities for the rice industry.

Overall, survey respondents expressed a positive perception of rice.  They ranked the most appealing attributes of rice as versatility (79%), affordability (67%), and nutrition (60%).  And when asked about the health indicators they associate with rice, the top five responses were: whole grain (77%), gluten-free (67%), complex carbohydrates (57%), source of energy (47%), and low fat (45%).

Furthermore, 79 percent of respondents reported no barriers in recommending rice.  However, 10 percent said that when it comes to diabetic patients, recommending rice can be challenging since many patients struggle with portion control and do not want to switch from white rice to brown rice.

Speaking of brown rice, it should come as no surprise that whole grain rice is the top choice of health professionals with 90 percent of respondents recommending brown rice, and 40 percent recommending wild rice.  And with the growing popularity of aromatic rice as well as consumers seeking more whole grain variety, 47 percent of respondents report recommending whole grain jasmine and basmati rice, while 27 percent recommend black and red rice.

“This continues to be a good growth opportunity for the U.S. rice industry,” said Katie Maher, USA Rice director of domestic promotion.  “At the USA Rice booth, we display all of the many types of rice grown in the USA and attendees are always impressed with the variety of whole grain rice available, but they often express difficulty in finding these rice types in their grocery stores.”

While a survey group made up of professional dietitians is well-informed about the benefits of rice, they did express a different attitude among consumers.  Thirty-three percent indicated that a general lack of knowledge about rice – on topics such as nutrition, preparation, and applications – negatively affect consumer acceptance and usage of rice.  

“They reported that some consumers have a ‘low-carb’ mentality from the decades of fad diets and that people always seem to struggle with how to prepare rice,” Maher said.  “They told us that recipes, cooking tips and tricks, as well as detailed nutritional information about the various rice types would be helpful resources when working with consumers.”

Maher concluded that, “FNCE is one of the most important tradeshows USA Rice attends.  We are able to address nutrition questions and food safety concerns as well as gain reliable feedback through conversations and surveys like this to better understand consumer interests and needs.”