The USA Rice Federation awarded the H.E. Butt Grocery Co. of San Antonio, Texas, the Rice Retailer of the Year Award at the recent 104th Rice Millers' Association Convention in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

H-E-B is one of the nation's largest retailers with an estimated $9.8 billion in annual sales with 304 stores in Texas and Mexico. The company was singled out for its promotional efforts in 278 stores, including: directing a chain-wide program of retail displays and newspaper advertising, and featuring National Rice Month in their monthly circular during September.

Category Manager Jody Hall accepted the award on behalf of the H.E. Butt Grocery Co. In recognition of the honor, USA Rice Federation President and C.E.O. Stuart Proctor presented Hall with a Tiffany-designed crystal award. Hall stated, “H-E-B views National Rice Month as a mutual benefit to both the American rice industry and the retailing industry. Most importantly, through raising awareness and offering consumers solutions, National Rice Month helps our customers in their decision to buy U.S. grown rice. During September we promoted U.S. grown/milled rice in 17 ads with over 110.5 million impressions with 2,120 in-store displays that drove sales to record levels.”

USA Rice, the national trade association for the rice industry, conducts several retail promotional programs each year in celebration of National Rice Month. The USA Rice retail program impacted U.S. rice sales nationwide during 2002, generating nearly 7,500 displays and resulting in a 6 percent lift in U.S. rice sales from August to September, according to A.C. Nielsen data.

For more information about National Rice Month, along with information on how to enter the retailer of the year contest, visit www.nationalricemonth.com or call Molly Johnson at (713) 270-6699.