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North America Embraces Korean Rice: CJ’s Bibigo Sticky Rice Sales Soar

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Last Year’s Cooked Sticky White Rice Sales Up 20.6% to 160 billion

CJ CheilJedang’s Cooked Sticky White Rice is gaining significant popularity in North America.

CJ CheilJedang announced on the 23rd that the sales of Cooked Sticky White Rice exported to North America last year increased by 20.6% compared to the same period of the previous year, recording about 160 billion won ($134 million). This figure represents a growth of twice the scale compared to two years ago in 2021.

Image of Bibigo Sticky Rice product exported by CJ CheilJedang to North America. [Photo=CJ CheilJedang]

It also exports white and mixed-grain rice as processed room-temperature rice, with white rice accounting for more than 90% of the export volume of processed rice. Processed rice is one of CJ CheilJedang’s seven major global strategic products. It shows high growth in key regions such as North America, where it is stocked in large-scale distribution channels like Costco Wholesale Corporation.

According to a survey conducted by CJ CheilJedang on instant rice consumption in North America, consumers eat instant rice as rice bowls, either by adding toppings or mixing them all, or as a side dish when eating protein-rich foods like meat, fish, and tofu. They also use instant rice when preparing fried rice, sushi, rolls, and burritos.

In the early stages of its launch, Korean-style rice, being stickier than the long-grain rice familiar to North American consumers, did not gain much popularity. However, with the recent increase in K-food restaurants, many consumers want to eat Korean-style rice at home. However, not having a rice cooker at home posed a significant barrier for North American consumers. In response, CJ CheilJedang emphasized the convenience of instant rice and developed a strategy to reach consumers.

Additionally, the wellness trend has led to the perception that white rice is a relatively healthy carbohydrate. The main carbohydrates consumed in North America are bread, which contains a lot of gluten, and fried rice, which has a relatively strong salty taste. According to a survey conducted by CJ CheilJedang among local white rice consumers, 34.6% said they purchased rice because rice is a healthy choice.

The food industry estimates that the North American processed rice market has grown by an average of 13% over the past three years, reaching about 1.2 trillion won ($1 billion). CJ CheilJedang is the only domestic company selling Korean-style rice among instant rice-selling companies. CJ CheilJedang plans to expand its foothold in the North American market further with various products suitable for local tastes.

Sook Jin Kim, in charge of processed rice at CJ CheilJedang, said, “The response to Korean-style white rice is so enthusiastic in North America that the intention to repurchase white instant rice exceeds 95%,” and added, “We will continue to introduce differentiated products so that K-instant rice can spread throughout North America.”

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