The ambient rice market has seen consistent growth with more than 19.2 million British households buying, an increase of 440,000 on last year, and consumers spending £8.83, up 26p, on average this year. Consumers are now buying the category about every eight weeks.
One of the main reasons for growth has been the success of microwaveable rice, which has helped to convince the consumer that rice is no longer the traditional staple at the family meal and can be used for snacks, at lunchtime and with lots of different foods. Retailers are realising the importance of this sector and are starting to give it more space in-store.
A lot of consumers are adding micro rice to their rice repertoire and consumers are trading up from savoury and other rice sectors to pay a premium for convenience. Uncle Ben’s Express, the first pouch rice to be launched in the UK in 2000, dominates the pouch market and continues to drive growth through extending the buyer base. Brands such as Batchelors and Blue Dragon have also launched into the pouch market along with retailers’ own-label ranges.
Another sector that is driving rice growth, although from a small base, is wholegrain rice, which is enjoying very strong growth as new consumers purchase the market (three million in the latest year) and spend more. A lot of consumers are trading up to wholegrain rice from long grain as they see it as a healthier option. Own label dominates wholegrain with an 85% value share alongside Uncle Ben’s rice, which is the dominant brand.
Basmati and long grain are suffering as consumers trade up to pouch rice, but some are switching to other accompaniments such as pasta and potatoes. Rice is predominantly eaten by men and proves unpopular with children, so these are both barriers that must be challenged to boost standard rice sectors.
The rice market is dominated by own label, with a 47% value share, but this is decreasing - proof that branded investment in new ways of delivery and presentation is paying off.
Wendy Adams, TNS Superpanel
Produced for The Grocer by TNS Superpanel. For more information call 020 8967 4521