USA Rice Federation recently launched The Rice Advisor (member log-in required), a monthly research report that provides rice industry members with current food processing trends for products using rice as an ingredient. According to the report, there were more than 4,300 new products using rice as a whole or broken kernel introduced over the past five years. The top five product categories are cereal/energy/snack bars, cold cereals, dry dog food, rice side dishes, and prepared meals.

Nutrition was a major factor driving product formulations across all categories. Whole grain was the second-most popular product claim for bars and cold cereals, while microwavability and speed of preparation were the most important product claims for side dishes and prepared meals. Information in the report comes from the Mintel (GNPD), which details how rice is used in consumer products.

Future issues of The Rice Advisor will address topics such as top manufacturers and brands using rice; rice usage in categories such as soups, bakery items, cereals, pet foods, and snacks; and the popularity of label positioning claims, such as whole-grain, organic, gluten-free, low fat, microwaveable, healthful, and kosher.

Processed foods represent the largest market segment for U.S.-grown rice. According to the 2008-09 U.S. Rice Domestic Usage Report, of the 6.5 billion pounds of U.S. rice shipped to the domestic market, more than 5.8 billion pounds was shipped for use in processed foods, beer, pet food and packaged rice.