RightRice heads to Kroger stores nationwide, validating demand for a pantry rice alternative
RightRice is made from a non-GMO and gluten-free blend of 90% vegetables (from lentil flour, chickpea flour, pea fiber) and 10% rice flour, giving it a similar texture and look as traditional white rice but with some nutritional advantages such as fewer net carbs as well as added protein and fiber.
"It’s only been three or four months so we’re still new, but I think the most important thing for a product like this is the consumer reception," RightRice founder Keith Belling told FoodNavigator-USA.
The brand rolled out nationally with Whole Foods and Amazon in February, and in March received a $5.5m minority investment led by Strand Equity and food industry executives including David Lee, COO of Impossible Foods.
The RightRice line of vegetable-based rice products will be available in the center-store rice aisle where Kroger will support the new brand launch with "great shelf positioning and merchandising," said Belling.
"We always did develop this for this broader audience and I think the partnership with Kroger gives us access to a more diverse consumer base," Belling said.
Roughly eight million people shop at Kroger stores.
Gaining a diverse consumer base
"The really fun thing has been the appeal across cultures, whether it’s been Brazilian, Persian, Hispanic [consumers]... we’ve had such a wide range of people saying how much they love it," Belling said. "If people don’t love your product, it’s hard to build a brand."
According to Belling, consumers are gravitating towards the ease of cooking and nutritional profile of RightRice products, which contains 10g protein, 5g fiber, and roughly 40% fewer net carbs than traditional white rice.
"The nutrition story has been a real standout. The quick cook time and ease of cooking has also really been a pleasant surprise for people with families on the go and doing meal prep," added Belling.
Everyone has a favorite
The flavored aspect has been one of the most important differentiators for the RightRice brand, noted Belling, who has seen consumers weigh in on social media with their favorite flavor. Garlic herb, Spanish, and original are neck and neck as the top-selling SKUs varying by region, with lemon pepper trailing slightly behind, according to Belling.
While plenty of other flavored rice brands exist, RighRice's edge is that consumers no longer have to tear open "that mystery packet" of spices and additives, said Belling. RightRice enrobes the grains with its seasonings (a blend of vegetable powders, herbs, and some additives including maltodextrin and citric acid to help with shelf stability).
With the launch into Kroger stores nationwide, RightRice is debuting its Thai Curry flavor, its first Asian-inspired ingredient to the portfolio after a lot of consumer requests.
"Rice is really one of those rare foods that’s beloved across all cultures and cuisine. Having our first Asian-inspired flavor really does help round out our line," Belling said.
RightRice comes in 7-oz. pouches (about four servings) at a suggested retail price of $3.99 and will be available in multiple Kroger banners including Ralphs, Fred Meyer, QFC, King Soopers, Smiths, Dillon's, Mariano's, and Fry's.