Rice: European Eating Trends Could Create Bigger U.S. Market

    ©Creative Commons Yamanaka Tamaki

    The Swiss Rice Federation (RISO) gathered in Bern, Switzerland, this week for their annual meeting to discuss the Swiss rice market in particular, as well as the EU rice supply situation in general and current trends. 

    Rice importers and international corporations represented at the meeting included: Mars Foods Schweiz, Reismühle Brunnen, La Riseria, Stutzer and Co Ag., Riso Gallo Spa.

    Switzerland imports 600-700 MT of U.S. rice annually, including long and medium grain varieties, which are sold as identified U.S. rice in mainstream retail as well as Asian specialty wholesale and retail chains. Rice as a main dish is dominated by Risotto thanks to the heavy Italian influence in the country.

    International Food scout Richard Kägi presented valuable insights into food marketing and trends in Switzerland and how rice fits into the picture of healthy eating and consumer demand.

    Kägi explained that rice should capitalize on the current European trend of eating less meat by vying for space on the plate vegetables are currently taking. Kägi says the less-meat trend is not necessarily being driven by people choosing a vegetarian lifestyle, rather that it is consistent with consumers in wealthy European countries opting to eat meat only one or two times per week, but then splurging on very high-quality cuts and types of meat.

    “We also heard consumers are interested in relating to their food, so telling the story of the food product is very important,” said USA Rice’s Eszter Somogyi who attended the meetings. “Social media and food and lifestyle influencers will be key in telling the rice story.”

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