U.S. Rice Makes Inroads in Japanese Consumer Market

©Debra L Ferguson Stock Photography

A recent article in the Shokei Advice, a rice trade paper, reported on U.S. medium grain Calrose rice that attracted a lot of attention from consumers shopping at Gyomu Super, a large Japanese grocery store chain that sells items in bulk.

The price of the Calrose was significantly lower than that of domestic rice, and, according to one shopper with ties to a local rice industry association, “the taste is unimaginably good for the price — it tasted even better than the Japanese rice I usually eat at home.”

The article also included a link to the USA Rice homepage and instructions on how to cook Calrose rice.

“We’ve seen lower-priced U.S.-origin rice selling well as more families here are cooking at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic and they’re looking for value in this uncertain economic environment,” said Jim Guinn, USA Rice director of Asian promotion programs.

“However, if a product does not meet consumer taste expectations, the spike in demand will end just as quickly as it began; we don’t think that will be the case here.”

USA Rice has promoted U.S. rice in foodservice and retail outlets that, until recently, had seen limited supplies of U.S. rice.  Typically, U.S. rice had primarily been available at specialty grocers such as those serving the expatriate community.

Working with importers and wholesalers, and expanding the promotion beyond the Kanto region (Tokyo/Yokohama area), interest in and visibility of U.S.-origin rice has increased significantly.

“The increase in cooking at home and the associated rise in retail sales of rice and other pantry staples has raised the profile and awareness of U.S.-grown rice in Japan,” said Guinn.




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