Specialty rice freezes well in frozen products, blends well with spices, and can be the base for snack foods such as chips, as it adds natural taste and aroma.
Looking for a new idea to jazz up a refrigerated, frozen, or shelf-stable food entrée or side dish for pennies more per serving? Go down the frozen food aisle of any grocery store and look at the frozen food entrées. Many have white rice, the kind most Americans grew up eating.

Baby Boomers, however, are discovering there is more than regular long grain rice. Specialty rice is experiencing a phenomenal explosion in sales, due to both increasing ethnic diversity of the U.S. population and increased popularity of ethnic cuisine such as Thai food. Additionally, meat and potatoes are being substituted with meat and rice at many restaurants and household kitchens around the country. Chicken and seafood dishes are combined with rice as never before. In the March 2003 issue of Bon Appetit magazine, 86% of those polled selected rice as their favorite side dish. Some select a different type of rice depending upon what they are going to serve—just like wine lovers do.

“The number one thing people tell us is that they already are aware that they need to have more rice in their diet for health reasons,” says Ojus Ajmera, president of Specialty Rice (Brinkley, Ark.), growers, millers, and packers of Della Gourmet Rice. “There is an understanding that rice is a healthy alternative to other starches, and that specialty rice adds pizzazz to any meal or side dish. They are beginning to experiment with all the different varieties.”

“It is important for food processors to examine these trends,” Ajmera said. “Specialty rice can add flavor and aroma to their dishes. Food companies can also increase the price of their products when they put on the package that it includes Basmati, Jasmine, Arborio or Sushi rice.”

The number of new products introduced into the U.S. and Canada that contain exotic rices are few in number.
“Della's white and brown Basmati rice have a unique aroma that enhances any entrée, even if it has been frozen,” Ajmera said. “And, of course, rice's main advantage is that it is a comparatively inexpensive main ingredient.” Many options exist for a company to pair specialty rice with an entrée:
  • Brown Basmati adds a natural, nutty or popcorn-like aroma. Many consumers have been educated about the values of brown rice, because it provides increased dietary fiber and protein. This allows opportunities for companies touting their products to health-conscious consumers.
  • Jasmine rice is a perfect base for capitalizing on the growing popularity of Thai food in America. Mainstream, domestic consumers are looking for such items for a quick fix meal at home (with an exotic twist).
  • Koshihikari (Sushi rice) from Della is a translucent grain with a naturally sweet taste. It is appropriate for sushi as well as increasingly popular Japanese-style rice bowls.
  • Arborio rice is ideal for making risotto, a popular Italian dish. Its chalky quality creates a creamy dish with a smooth taste when it is cooked. All Della products are grown in America. “We have been able to match the authenticity of the imported products,” says Ajmera. For only a few pennies more per serving, specialty rice has the potential to dramatically increase sales and customer satisfaction.

For more information

Ojus Ajmera at 800-467-1233
Della Rice Products Write in 401