USA Rice Unveils New Grown in the USA Mark

The U.S. rice industry’s “Grown in the USA” mark has been around for decades. It signified to consumers that the rice contents of the package bearing the mark was 100% U.S.-grown.

While it has been the dominant Country of Origin mark for U.S. rice, it is not the only one. Some rice packages bear different red, white, and blue-themed designs or words “Product of Texas,” “California Grown,” “Certified Louisiana,” or similar.

In 2020, Washington, DC-based brewery Hellbender Brewing partnered with USA Rice to brew a beer using Louisiana-grown purple rice, following it up two years later with an Arkansas aromatic rice beer. In both instances, the Rice Grown in the USA (GITUSA) mark was placed on the beer cans.

“The experience with Hellbender was a lightbulb moment for us,” said Michael Klein, vice president of domestic promotion & marketing for USA Rice. “We wondered who else might see value in promoting to their customers that they are using U.S.-grown rice? So we started quietly asking around”

Klein said foodservice partners, who often highlight locally grown ingredients, were interested, but there was a hitch.

“The existing GITUSA mark was designed for a package of rice on a store shelf, not a menu or a restaurant’s webpage or their social media channels,” he said. “It was a horizontal rectangle, often in red, white, and blue and with the words ‘rice grown in the USA,’ so it communicated the message, but our partners wanted something a bit more modern and dynamic.”

Enter USA Rice’s Domestic Promotion Committee who started working with graphic designers and marketing consultants in 2023.

“We were given more than a dozen options that we got down to four or five,” explained Robbie Trahan, a Louisiana rice miller and chair of the Domestic Promotion Committee. “We then got it to two and sent the options to our Retail Subcommittee who debated and polled the Boards of Directors of our membership organizations and the USA Rice Communications Committee before making the final recommendation that we accepted.”

The new mark, called “GITUSA Badge,” has a vertical orientation, is more compact, and can be made very tiny without losing messaging, making it the dynamic mark requested.

There are also some new elements to the mark qualification.

“The old mark was available to anyone using 100% U.S.-grown rice, and that’s still true,” explained Trahan. “The new mark has that requirement, of course, but also requires a commitment to support the industry’s climate and sustainability goals, and membership in USA Rice, or member organizations USA Rice Millers’ Association, USA Rice Merchants’ Association, or the USA Rice Council.”

Trahan said end-users of rice, that meet all the licensing requirements but are not eligible to join one of the organizations mentioned, such as a restaurant, may still apply to license the mark from USA Rice and would be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

“Ultimately, we know consumers are interested in where their food is coming from and how it’s being grown and manufactured, with a growing focus on environmental responsibility,” he said. “U.S. rice farmers are leaders in food safety, stewardship, and sustainability, dedicated to conserving resources while producing a high quality and profitable crop. This new mark signifies all of that to consumers, and I look forward to it being used broadly in the retail and foodservice spaces.”

This article is provided by USA Rice’s The Daily.

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