Consumers are reimagining rice cookers, and the evolution of rice cookers as a more versatile cooking appliance is driving steep sales growth, according to market research firm Circana.
Sales of the “straightforward” rice cooker appliance are up 34%, and units sold increased by 19% in the 12 months ending March 2023 compared to a year ago, reported Circana, formerly IRI and The NPD Group.
“In a world of high-tech smart appliances, the simplicity and reliability of rice cookers have caught consumers’ attention,” said Joe Derochowski, home industry advisor at Circana. “Even though the appliance’s name is specific to rice, consumers are now finding other uses for rice cookers like making oatmeal, steaming vegetables, chili, pasta, and more.”
In addition to preparing foods other than rice in the cookers, the diminishing interest in low carbohydrate diets, such as keto, also helped to popularize rice cookers as rice and other carbohydrates are consumed more, Derochowski said. In the three months ending March 2020, nearly 31% of U.S. adults said they were trying to avoid carbohydrates; the percentage decreased to 24% in the three months ending March 2023, reported Circana.
Circana’s 2023 Kitchen Audit indicates 28% of U.S. households own a rice cooker. Rice cookers have evolved to meet changing consumer needs, and among options are induction, electric, gas, and multifunction. Rice cooker buyers skew toward young adults, ages 18 to 34, live in a household size of four or more, and are equally represented across all household income groups, according to the Circana Kitchen Audit.
“Rice cookers are a good example of how taking a classic product and modifying it to offer the functionality and style consumers are looking for can go a long way in staying current,” Derochowski said. “With a reliable and trusted appliance, like rice cookers, just a little innovation can go a long way.”