A recipe for success

Vicky Bloyd

If you’re not involved in routine grocery shopping and preparing the evening meal most nights, you may not realize the role that recipes and recipe development plays in promoting a commodity. And it doesn’t matter the crop, either.

Recipes have taken on more importance with the advent of the Food Network, reality-based cooking shows and the rise of the “foodie.” About the same time cooking shows really gained a following, the recession hit, prompting many families to eat more meals at home rather than dining out.

The days of commodity groups, processors or manufacturers developing glossy cookbooks has evolved to include social media and the Internet. Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and food blogs are now the main sources of inspiration for many home chefs. If your commodity or product doesn’t have a digital presence to make cooking with it as easy as possible, your competitor likely does.

According to many shopper surveys, the main grocery buyer is female with two children at home. In many cases, she also holds an outside job.

Growing up, both my parents worked, so our chore after school was to turn on the oven and cook whatever frozen dinner concoction my mom had made the previous weekend. And like the replay button, we kids would utter, “Meatloaf again? We just had meatloaf.”

If my mom hadn’t planned ahead, she was met with, “I’m starving! What’s for dinner?” the minute she stepped inside the door.

Faced with that common dilemma, the household’s primary shopper looks for foods that are quick to prepare after a hard day of work, are nutritious, and offer something new or slightly different. Coincidently, rice fits the bill because of the various “instant” rice products that can be cooked in just a few minutes. And it lends itself to numerous different flavor additions or ethnic cuisines.

Rice’s flexibility also meshes well with millennials — the generation of 18- to 35-year-olds who are quickly becoming a buying powerhouse. This group is expected to surpass Baby Boomers in population within the next few years.

Unlike previous generations, millennials don’t follow tradition and aren’t loyal to items or products. Instead, they are open to new experiences and like to explore new or different things. At the same time, this generation wants to connect with their food and search for items that are organically or sustainably produced.

Because U.S. rice is grown by family farmers who support sustainable practices, such as flooding for waterfowl, the crop may be just the ingredient they’re looking for.

Send your comments to: Editor, Rice Farming Magazine, 6515 Goodman Road, Box 360, Olive Branch, MS 38654. Call 901-767-4020 or e-mail vlboyd@onegrower.com.