USA Rice Carves Out a Niche in Korea with New Products

Apr 20, 2017
A Korean snack with a U.S. twist
SEOUL, KOREA – In the latest of a slew of new food and snack products that use U.S.-grown rice is a new convenience package of “Army Stew,” a Korean-style spicy soup containing kimchi, sausage, ham, rice cakes, and ramen noodles.  The rice cakes are produced using rice flour originating from U.S. rice.  Many snacks and food items containing rice flour have emerged on the market here within the last year.  

Two years ago, when Korea first implemented tariffication, whereby the purchase of rice for table use was no longer guaranteed by Korea’s World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments, USA Rice began discussions and held technical meetings with the rice flour users and rice flour processors here to gain more interest in U.S. rice as a processed food ingredient.  

The overall strategy consisted of:  1) reminding rice product manufacturers and foodservice that U.S. rice is high in quality, ​reliable, and appealing to their customers through menu presentation seminars; 2) encouraging and supporting the launch of new U.S rice menus; and 3) building an appreciation for U.S. rice among Korean food media and consumers via traditional consumer promotions.

USA Rice kicked off the food ingredient promotion with a rice cake project that encouraged rice flour processors to test U.S. medium grain rice for their operations and ultimately change the origin of their rice flour products to the U.S. from either domestic or Chinese rice.

Steadily, many food manufacturers have launched new U.S. rice-based food products and some changed rice flour sources to use U.S. rice.  

“According to noodle product manufacturers, Korean customers prefer the chewy texture of noodles and rice flour made with U.S. rice,” said Hugh Maginnis, vice president of international for USA Rice.  “So our efforts are paying dividends and we are poised to potentially grow our presence here - something that ​remained unclear when the government announced plans to move to tarrification.”