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US wild rice: the growing UK opportunity for food manufacturers
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Wild rice – a classic superfood suitable for food manufacturers

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The ongoing growth in the UK of wild rice, increasingly recognised for its health properties, suggests there is an opportunity for food manufacturers to capitalise on its success, as S&B Herba explains.

With so many food ingredients competing for the mantle of ‘superfood,’ few can claim the qualifying credentials of wild rice. The continued growth of global wild rice consumption is driven by the growing demand for low-fat and nutrient-dense food, as well as increasing health consciousness among consumers.

The nutritional benefits of consuming wild rice are numerous​; it is a wholegrain, suitable for gluten-free diets, low in calories and high in dietary fibre as well as essential nutrients such as phosphorus (which aids bone strength) and magnesium (which can boost energy levels1)​. Wild rice also has a lower glycaemic index than regular rice.


In addition, when cooked, wild rice has around 18% fewer calories than brown rice, but contains about 45% more protein, so appeals to those consumers seeking to enhance their protein intake and keen to pursue a more meat-free diet. 

The UK is an important destination for USA rice and, approximately 24,270mt was imported in 2022, of which 280mt was US wild rice2​, and remains one of the global leaders regarding innovation. S&B Herba Foods is one of the leading suppliers of US wild rice in the UK and as wild rice continues to make inroads into the market, the company sees additional opportunities for the product. Raising awareness of wild rice with food manufacturers will enable the product to gain more traction in a market that’s re-awakening to more health-orientated innovation.

Piers Stevens, commercial director of S&B Herba Foods explains: “Sales of US wild rice were growing steadily prior to the pandemic and then reduced in 2020, but we’ve seen a recovery since then. Traditionally, wild rice has been used in mixes with other varieties but more recently we’ve seen wild rice being sold and used on its own merit. It is also an increasingly popular ingredient in the food manufacturing and processing sector to create an appealing taste experience and, at the same time, increase nutritional value like protein or fibre content.

About US wild rice

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As well as a range of health credentials, wild rice is the only cereal grain native to North America and in fact is not rice at all. The slender black grains are the seeds of a tall water grass. Wild rice has been collected for thousands of years by native Indians and was thought to grow only in flowing water. However, since the 1950s, dykes were created to form paddy fields and wild rice is now grown commercially and cultivated from still water. The two major growing regions are Minnesota and California. US Wild rice is sustainably grown with no known damage to air, water, land, soil or forests. To meet growing demand worldwide, continuing research is focused on increasing yields as well as developing strains resistant to certain fungi.

“Wild rice is truly unrivalled when it comes to superfood credentials; its health features, coupled with its exceptional versatility make wild rice truly unique, adds Stevens. “There’s no reason why wild rice can’t be part of an everyday healthy diet in the UK and we aim to continue to move towards that goal.”
To gain some inspiration on the uses of US wild rice, see the video below:

To find out more about US Wild Rice, contact S&B Herba on email: fnyrf@fous.pbz​ or tel: 01689 878700

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