What Happened to Uncle Bens Instant Rice?

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by packrat79, Jul 23, 2014.

  1. packrat79

    packrat79

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      As someone with special dietary needs, Uncle Bens Instant Long Grain Rice has been a staple of my diet for years - until now. Last month I discovered it was out of stock at my nearest grocery store and they were "having a problem getting more in stock". Attempts to find it at other grocery stores in the province were to no avail. I finally called Uncle Bens consumer affairs hotline, were I was informed that their instant rice (as well as Long Grain Perfection, which I also bought) had been discontinued. I asked why this was so, and was given what sounded like a scripted answer basically saying that "Our customers wanted a healthier alternative". I also asked why these products were still on their website, and was told the site would "soon be updated".

      That was a month ago, their site hasn't changed nor can I find this instant rice anywhere in stores. I ordered the last box of it from Walmart's online grocery shopping, but that was the last I could find of it. I believe their Instant Brown Rice has also been discontinued as it too has disappeared.

      There are two things about this that have me puzzled: why Uncle Bens would discontinue one of their best-selling and oldest products (if it's sold out across the country, it MUST have been popular), and why they did not announce it nor inform any of their retailers, most of which still have empty slots on their shelves waiting for new stock which will apparently never arrive. I suspect there's something more to this but I can't figure out what - can anyone shed some light on this?

      I strongly encourage all who are affected by this product change to write to Uncle Bens via the comment form on their site, and politely express their frustration at no longer being able to buy these products.

      There are lots of other brands of instant rice out there, but Uncle Bens was always the best - hopefully there will be enough outcry over this to make them come to their senses.

      I should also note that the Long Grain Perfection Rice has been replaced with a very similar product, the cooking time has been shortened from 10 minutes to 8 but in my opinion it is not as good as its predecessor.
     
  2. maryb

    maryb

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    Why instant? Regular rice takes 20 minutes to cook and is easy. twice as much water as rice, bit of salt and any seasonings and herbs, bring to a simmer, cover and set the timer for 20 minutes.
     
  3. packrat79

    packrat79

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    Instant Rice is great when you're in a hurry. But that's besides the point... I still want to know why this was discontinued and why nobody was told.
     
  4. someday

    someday

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    You expect people on this forum to know? You'll get a lot of "just cook rice from scratch" answers here. 

    But yeah, just cook rice from scratch. Buy a 20 dollar rice cooker, even. If you eat a lot of rice, it is a great investment. Perfect rice every time. 
     
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  5. nicko

    nicko Founder of Cheftalk.com Staff Member

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    @packrat79   this is interesting have you contacted Uncle Ben's? A quick google search turns up nothing and a look at their website still shows they offer the product. You can also purchase it via Amazon so that might be an option if you buy it by the case.

    And I agree with you sometimes you just want some instant rice not the rice cooker or anything else. My wife and I use instant rice often as well as regular rice it all depends what you have time for.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2014
  6. meezenplaz

    meezenplaz

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    Have you tried to do any research into the company itself? Who's the parent company, and what is their recent

    history? Its entirely possible (especially in this economy) that the company has experienced a recent (within  last

    1 to 3 years) merger, or worse, has been completely bought out. When these transactions take place in the food

    manuf industry, and lots of other industries too, its not uncommon for the new parent or owner to start overhauling

    the product line and even dump products that have been continual high sellers. Nor is it uncommon for it to take a

    couple years to "filter" down to plant, outlet and finally the consumer level.

    They may have decided to dump the entire rice processing facilities, for example.

    I compare it to TV shows-- they always blame the ratings, but there are a myriad reasons for cancellations.

    I also completely agree with your assessment of their PR rep's spiel--sounds very scripted to me too.  

    Which makes it especially similar here, as studios ultimately blame the viewers just as your PR rep

    blamed "other customers." Further suspicious is the fact they've discontinued the brown rice as well.  

    Unfortunately it will probably all go the way of the Twinkie--and  believe me, I've become used to seeing that

    bright orange box all my life too.

    Instant rice is not an unhealthy product to my knowledge, it just isn't AS healthy as long grains.

    Depends why you're using the rice-- as a main meal course, or as a side accompanying an already

    healthy balanced meal.
     
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2014
  7. packrat79

    packrat79

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      I did a bit of research but couldn't find any info as to the company changing hands, closing plants, changes in management, etc. I can't understand why they're being so secretive about such a major change to their product line. And again, it makes no sense to cancel your best-selling product. I suspect there's something more to the story that we're just not being told.

      At least with Twinkies, people made enough fuss that someone else bought the trademark and started making them again. Fat chance of a cancelled grain product being brought back due to consumer demand....
     
  8. nicko

    nicko Founder of Cheftalk.com Staff Member

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    Well you don't know they are changing their line only that your local store can't get it. Contact Uncle Ben's they have a customer service dept so I am sure they can answer your questions. It is a good lesson though to always have a backup product line for whatever you are using.
     
  9. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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  10. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    I'm confused, is it really and truly their "best selling" product? And do you think that yet are conspiring for some reason? In also curious, what kind of special dietary needs allocate for instant rice but not for regular rice.

    Living in a capitalist nation there is only one answer I can think of - it doesn't sell well and so they pulled it.
     
  11. nicko

    nicko Founder of Cheftalk.com Staff Member

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    @Koukouvagia  The topic is what happened to this product not why this person chooses it. Why they choose that rice is a completely different discussion and probably more suited to a private message.
     
  12. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    I've always used a standard pan for cooking rice; no rice cooker.  To me the latter is a "set it and forget it" type device.  No disrespect here.
     
  13. nicko

    nicko Founder of Cheftalk.com Staff Member

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    @packrat79  I have to apologize I did not read your entire post. Looks like you did call Uncle Ben's and got your answer. As to why they changed it is would probably be due to revenue but who knows. My advice would be to buy up what you can off the internet till you can find a suitable alternative. As for writing Uncle Ben's about this product I honestly don't think it has the pull of the twinkies which are much more steeped in Americana and our culture.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2014
  14. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    I've noticed over the last few years that the converted rice box dishes in the grocers aisle have transitioned to fully prepared rice in steri pouches. The market is moving towards increased convenience IMHO.

    Check some other grocers. It may be that your grocers wholesaler had stopped carrying it. And not that uncle Bens discontinued it
     
  15. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    Dammit, folks, THAT has to be THE LINE of the decade.   Uncle Ben's ...  pull of the Twinkies.    HAHAHAHAHHAHHAA   /img/vbsmilies/smilies/bounce.gif/img/vbsmilies/smilies/rollsmile.gif/img/vbsmilies/smilies/crazy.gif/img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif
     
  16. packrat79

    packrat79

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    Maybe if every box of Uncle Bens instant rice had included a free Twinkie, people might have made a fuss....
     
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  17. nicko

    nicko Founder of Cheftalk.com Staff Member

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  18. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    I think only those who care for that rice will make a fuss. If there enough it will continue to be made. But my guess is that it doesn't sell. And every region and market is different. What about other markets in your area?

    Being in Greece now, there is a type of snack food made by Cheetos that I just love to snack on here but I've never seen them in the states. It wouldn't sell.
     
  19. mezzaluna

    mezzaluna

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    I think it's probably that the prepared, shelf-stable version is becoming more prevalent. I sympathize with packrat, though! I get very frustrated when a product I like and depend on vanishes without warning. It was that way with the coffee-replacement Postum. My in-laws loved it, then suddenly it was gone. I was able to get a friend in Canada to send some for a while, then it was gone from there too. Now it's only available for something like $17 a jar from The Vermont Country Store, a company famous for handling obscure nostalgic products (think Evening in Paris perfume, Sky Bar candy bars, Beeman's gum). 
     
  20. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    I tried one of those pouch rice abominations when the product was new on the market.

    If I ever have a burning need for a mushy block o'rice with an odd chemical aftertaste I know right where to source it.

    mimi