The Korea Herald

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CJ's processed rice sales soar in North America

By Kim Hae-yeon

Published : April 23, 2024 - 16:01

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CJ's Bibigo Cooked Sticky White Rice product (CJ CheilJedang) CJ's Bibigo Cooked Sticky White Rice product (CJ CheilJedang)

With the rising number of Korean restaurants abroad and the global appeal of Korean food, CJ CheilJedang's processed rice product is experiencing a surge in popularity across North America.

CJ CheilJedang announced on Tuesday that sales of Bibigo Cooked Sticky White Rice amounted to 160 billion won ($116 million) last year in North America, marking a 21 percent increase from the previous year, and doubling the figures for 2021.

Processed rice stands as one of CJ CheilJedang's seven key global export items, with significant growth facilitated by entry into major distribution channels such as Costco, a pivotal market in North America.

The company mainly exports two types of processed rice —white rice and multigrain rice— with white rice constituting over 90 percent of its processed rice exports. According to a survey conducted by the company, North American consumers typically incorporate white rice into their bowl-type meals, pairing it with protein sources like meat, fish and tofu, or using it to put in rolls and burritos.

CJ CheilJedang marketed processed rice in general by highlighting its convenience, while positioning white rice as a healthier carbohydrate alternative to gluten-rich bread or sodium-laden fried rice, which were previously more prevalent to consumers in North America. In its survey mentioned, 34.6 percent of consumers in North America who bought CJ's white rice products, expressed their preference for white rice due to its perceived health benefits.

"The positive reception to Korean white rice is overwhelming, with over 95 percent of North American consumers expressing willingness to repurchase our sticky white rice products," Kim Sook-jin, CJ CheilJedang's processed rice executive said, adding that the brand is committed to introducing innovative products to facilitate the widespread adoption of "K-processed rice" throughout North America.