In a USDA report, the U.S. agriculture counselor at the U.S. Embassy here specifically noted the efforts of the USA Rice Federation, in combination with the work of Mexican rice mills and others, will contribute to an increase of 3.7 percent in Mexico’s rice consumption in the current marketing year.

With funding help from the USDA’s Market Access Program (MAP), Federation activities to introduce U.S. into Mexican foodservice channels have apparently been on target.

TOKS, a family style restaurant chain in Mexico, used several new dishes featuring U.S. rice on a promotional menu. As a result of great acceptance by the consumers during the promotion, the restaurant chain decided to include two new rice dishes as part of their regular menu.

TOKS has 40 outlets nationwide and serves 20,000 people daily.

“We’re pleased to be working with USA Rice and we’re looking forward to a long relationship,” said TOKS executive Juan Carlos Alverde. “We are joining forces to bring to our customers the message that rice has multiple benefits and is delicious, especially how we serve it at TOKS.

Also, USA Rice-sponsored seminars and cooking contests are now required coursework for several of Mexico’s leading culinary schools.

These schools train the future chefs and foodservice executives responsible for major menu and food purchasing decisions across Mexico. Over the past three years, USA Rice has conducted many seminars and contests at major culinary schools. USA Rice educates chefs about the versatile and creative ways to use U.S. rice.

“With a population of 100 million people, growing at 2 percent annually, Mexico offers significant growth prospects for U.S. rice,” said John Mentis, vice president of domestic and international promotions for the Federation. “Mexico grows very little rice and relies on imports to meet its growing demand.”

Mexico is the second-largest export market by value for U.S. rice, and the largest by volume.

USA Rice Federation is the national advocate for all segments of the rice industry, conducting activities to influence government programs, developing and initiating programs to increase worldwide demand, and providing other services to increase industry profitability.

e-mail: rsmith@primediabusiness.com