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About UNCLE BEN'S®

An inside look at the history of UNCLE BEN'S®

The UNCLE BEN'S® Story

The makers of UNCLE BEN'S® have a long, rich history of producing premium quality rice. The story of how the company came to be dates back to over 80 years ago in the USA. It all began with the development of the original CONVERTED® Brand Rice by Erich Huzenlaub and Gordon Harwell. In 1942, Forrest E. Mars formed a partnership with the duo and they began supplying their high quality rice, exclusively, to the Armed Forces during WWII. Their unique method of parboiling rice ensured that the nutrients were locked in and the rice could be cooked more quickly than traditional rice. At the end of WWII in 1945, Mars and Huzenlaub opened the Houston rice mill in the USA.

Where did the UNCLE BEN'S® name originate?

The story goes that in the late 1940's, Gordon Harwell, one of the founders of Converted® Brand Rice, and his partner were dining in their favourite Chicago restaurant. They were discussing how they were going to market their product to new customers, they began to discuss the legendary Texan farmer, Uncle Ben who was known for his exceptionally high quality rice. So right there and then, they christened their product Uncle Ben’s® Converted Brand Rice. The face appearing on all Uncle Ben’s® packaging is that of Frank Brown, a maitre d'hotel (head waiter) at an exclusive Chicago restaurant who agreed to pose for the Uncle Ben’s® portrait.

What makes UNCLE BEN'S® different?

UNCLE BEN’S® Rice is made using a special processing method that helps rice retain its natural goodness to ensure it consistently cooks to perfection.  Before we remove the outer hull and bran, UNCLE BEN’S® rice is parboiled using water, heat and a vacuum to drive nutrients from the bran into the centre of the grain.

UNCLE BEN’S® Microwave Rice is prepared in a retort, which is a combined cooker and cooler machine.  Vitamins and natural colour are retained as the product is cooked in the sealed pouch.  UNCLE BEN’S® brand continues to develop new and innovative rice solutions, to make it easier to include rice as a regular part of a balanced diet.

PERFECT EVERY TIME

UNCLE BEN'S® Today

Rice is a staple food for 3.5 billion people across the world, bringing families, friends, young and old together to share and enjoy mealtimes. UNCLE BEN'S® brand knows the value of time spent with those you love, so we take the complications out of preparing wholesome food so you can focus on the good stuff.

Since 2007, UNCLE BEN'S® products have helped Australian families enjoy quick and satisfying meals together with a range of classic and flavoured rice varieties. But it's not just Australian consumers that are enjoying UNCLE BEN'S® delicious rice, it's sold in over 100 countries around the world! Today UNCLE BEN'S® is the number one rice brand in the world and has built it’s leadership through the delivery of a functional point of superiority: non-stickiness. PERFECT EVERY TIME

The future of UNCLE BEN'S®

As the owner of the UNCLE BEN'S® brand, Mars Food is leading the way in making rice more sustainable. We are a proud member of the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP), the first ever global standard for sustainable rice that reduces rice’s environmental foot print and improves the lives of rice farming communities.  

UNCLE BEN'S is committed to sustainably sourcing 100 per cent of its rice from farmers working towards the Sustainable Rice Platform by 2020. Today we’re sourcing 97 per cent of rice this way, up 63 per cent from 2016.

History of the UNCLE BEN'S® Brand

Take a look at the rich history of UNCLE BEN'S® brand
over the decades.

  • 1940s
  • 1950s
  • 1960s
  • 1970s
  • 1980s
  • 1990s
  • 2000s
  • 2010s
  • 2020s

Intro

The UNCLE BEN'S® Brand is all about rice. So we like to think our history goes back to the very beginning, when this small grain became something big in the development of civilization.

Get started
 

1940s

  • 1940s

    During World War II, the original CONVERTED Brand Rice was supplied to the US Army.
    A marketing campaign commenced in 1945 to educate US consumers about the benefits of original CONVERTED Brand Rice.
    CONVERTED Rice officially launched as UNCLE BEN'S® CONVERTED Brand Rice in 1947.

1950s

  • 1950s

    The UNCLE BEN'S® brand became the #1 rice brand in the US by 1952.
    The company changed its name from "CONVERTED Rice Inc" to "UNCLE BEN'S® Inc." in 1959, when Forrest Mars became sole owner of the business.

1960s

  • 1960s

    The UNCLE BEN'S® brand brought more exotic rice varieties to the market and taught consumers how to use them. Exciting new products such as UNCLE BEN'S® Long Grain and Wild Rice Original Recipe were launched.
    In 1966, UNCLE BEN'S® rice was launched in the UK.

1970s

  • 1970s

    UNCLE BEN'S® moved into brown rice varieties.
    By 1974, annual sales of UNCLE BEN'S® rice had reached the 100 million milestone.
    In 1977, UNCLE BEN'S® rice was produced in Europe for the first time in Olen, Belguim.

1980s

  • 1980s

    By 1981, sales of UNCLE BEN'S® rice had doubled to $200 million.
    Innovation was characterised by the drive for taste and convenience.UNCLE BEN'S® Boil in a Bag Range was introduced to consumers, providing a new, easy way to cook perfect rice without the mess!

1990s

  • 1990s

    Innovation remained a key focus for the company. In 1994, UNCLE BEN'S® Soups and Rice Puddings were introduced.
    In 1998, UNCLE BEN'S® Flavoured Rice was added to the range.
    UNCLE BEN'S® Express microwaveable rice first launched in the UK in 1999.

2000s

  • 2000s

    UNCLE BEN'S® Rice, headlined by the Express microwaveable range is launched in Australia in 2007.
    By 2009, 13 delicious UNCLE BEN'S® Express variants are available for purchase in Australia.

2010s

  • 2010s

    The UNCLE BEN'S® range continues to expand across Australian supermarkets as consumers realise the convenience and ease of using microwave rice.

2020s

  • 2020s

    As the makers of UNCLE BEN'S® we’re committed to working with others to drive transformational change. That’s why we were the first in the industry to commit to sourcing 100% of our rice from farmers working towards the Sustainable Rice Platform standard by 2020.