Ebro expands further in U.S. rice market

by Josh Sosland
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For Ebro, RiceSelect represents a leading U.S. retail brand in the aromatic and organic rice market.

HOUSTON — Ebro North America is expanding in the U.S. specialty rice market with the $45 million acquisition of the U.S. consumer rice business of RiceTec AG and RiceTec Inc.

Ebro, which has been in the U.S. rice market since 2004 with its ownership of Riviana Foods, said the transaction includes the RiceTec brand and other assets of the business, including a production plant in Alvin, Texas, with a workforce of 42.

For Ebro, RiceSelect represents a leading U.S. retail brand in the aromatic and organic rice market. The company markets a range of products containing rice as well as ancient grains and “other super cereals.” The company had sales of $31.1 million in 2014.

“The brand has a premium image and a portfolio of high value added products widely recognized by North American consumers,” Ebro said.

Ebro described RiceSelect as a “perfect complement” to its U.S. portfolio that includes Minute Rice. The new business gives Ebro a foothold in “the fastest growing segments of the North American rice market” while providing synergies since both business are located within a small area of Texas.

Ebro, the North American division of Madrid, Spain-based Ebro Foods S.A., said the acquisition fits within its corporate objectives of investing in high value-added and differentiated products; better positioning the company in the health and wellness arena with a focus on whole grains, ancient grains, high fiber and nutrient dense foods while building on the company’s global leadership in rice.

Ebro’s other principal U.S. business is New World Pasta Co., with brands that include Creamette, Ronzoni, Skinner and San Giorgio. Globally, the company is a leader in the rice business with operations in 25 countries in Europe, Asia, North America and Africa. The company’s annual sales in 2014 totaled €2,121 million.

With the sale of its consumer products business, RiceTec will continue its core business of developing  hybrid rice, an operation that was started in 1988.
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