Basic white rice has plenty of competition from lesser-known varieties as consumers turn to the staple grain to eat foods that are gluten-free and high in nutrition. Besides long-grain white rice, shoppers are favoring such alternatives as jasmine, basmati, wild, red, and brown rice. Sales of basmati and jasmine rice were $283 million between Sept. 1, 2013 and Aug. 30, a 63 percent increase since 2010, according to Nielsen data.
Manufacturers of all sizes are taking note. Uncle Ben’s, a long-time U.S. staple, has increased its offering of brown and basmati rice options in addition to its fast-cooking variety, while the smaller Lundberg Family Farms in California has seen sales of its heirloom rice varieties jump. Global basmati rice producer Amira Nature Foods plans to expand its U.S. presence. The Dubai-based company recently hired Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide to redesign its packaging to lure American shoppers. Changing demographics are contributing to the shift. An increase in diversity among American shoppers is helping to grow sales, as many consumers come from ethnic communities for which rice is a primary food, reports The Wall Street Journal