USA Rice and Ghana: An important, growing relationship will benefit U.S. producers.

By Betsy Ward
President and CEO
USA Rice Federation

With a population of 25.2 million, per capita income of $3,400 and real GDP growth estimated at 7 percent in 2012, the coastal African nation of Ghana is actually one of the wealthiest and most stable economies on the continent. And with annual per capita consumption of rice at 106 pounds and climbing, Ghana represents the single most important market for U.S. rice on the continent.

We’ve been active in Ghana for more than 10 years, working closely with importers to support the sale of U.S. brands, and by conducting many promotional activities that target both consumers and the growing foodservice sector. In 2012, U.S. rice exports to Ghana totaled 109,900 MT, valued at $62.4 million – an eight percent increase in value and a 12 percent increase in volume over the previous year. 2013 is on pace to top those figures.

National Cooking Competition

  • Consumers in Ghana purchase most rice at large open-air markets either packaged or scooped out of large bags.
  • Ghanaians are aware of different rice types and origins, and many are able to identify favorite brands by inhaling the aroma and looking at the grains.
  • The country is a producer and importer of rice, and there are no restrictions on importing and selling rice in Ghana, although the current
    import levy is at about 37 percent.
  • Aromatic jasmine rice is a favorite in Ghana, and in 2011, USA Rice helped introduce the Jazz Perfume Rice brand. U.S. jasmine rice rapidly gained market share in the high-end fragrant rice segment, sales have increased nearly fourfold within a year, moving from 1,403 MT in 2011 to 4,856 MT in 2012.

We use radio and television advertising, billboards, posters, seminars, almanacs, and other branded point-of-sale materials, as well as demonstrations at open-air markets, in churches and with other professional groups. For the past five years, USA Rice has also sponsored the National Cooking Competition for student chefs.

The competition began in a single city, but has since expanded to cover eight qualifying cooking schools from across the country, lasts for three days and has become an important part of the schools’ academic calendars.

Students develop a three-course meal using U.S. rice as the main ingredient, and their creativity is boundless. The list of this year’s entries was fascinating, with recipes such as Manhyia Stir-Fry, Ricebani Varie, Rice Canapes Delight, Texas Poisson La Darne, Rice Etuku and Texas Rice Irish Cream to name a few.

Ghana’s Deputy Tourism Minister, Ms. Dzifa Gomashie, praised USA Rice for initiating the contest and helping it grow. She encouraged participants to open their own restaurants to help grow Ghana’s hospitality sector. It is our hope that those who do will have U.S. rice on their menus.

USA Rice’s Eszter Somogyi also attended and reflected on the event’s significance. “It’s wonderful to be involved in such a fun and important event. Not only does the contest promote U.S. rice, but it helps these young people prepare to enter the job market, and we hope they’ll be inspired by, and remember, U.S. rice.”

And that is the sentiment at the heart of all of our promotion efforts in Ghana and elsewhere.

It is about introducing American rice and brands to consumers and then working to establish a long-term loyalty that will benefit all U.S. producers by increasing demand for our nutritious, high-quality rice.

To learn more, visit www.usarice.com.