Doing the Rice Thing
The Kennedy rice market has gone beyond the bulk domestic brand to expand into a health-conscious, organic product called Kenchaux Rice. With the Kennedy women at the helm, this product is expanding beyond Louisiana state lines.
article by Brenda Tarver | photography by Brad Arender
The year was 1963. In a rural northeast Louisiana community, William Elton Kennedy along with the help of his father dug his hands into a farming career at the age of 17. In 1969, after accumulating rice quota, Elton planted his first rice crop in the bottom land of the Boeuf River. His determination, commitment, and continued success eventually became the foundation of Kennedy Rice, one of the largest rice producers in the U.S. The company has remained a family-owned business for more than fifty years. A dedication to sustainable agriculture, precision GPS leveling, fertility management and water conservation programs was instilled into each Kennedy employee and family member from the start.
In 2010, the company’s future was further secured with the management addition of Elton’s youngest daughter, Meryl. With a fresh young generation at the helm, Kennedy Rice and its affiliated companies were poised to reach even greater heights.
Fast forward to 2015. Meryl Kennedy Farr’s aspiration to meet customer demand and expand the Kennedy rice market from bulk domestic to health conscious organic and natural products took flight with the birth of the KenChaux® rice brand.
“KenChaux is a partnership between my three sisters: Patchez Fox, Felicity Kemmerly, Chantel Dickson, and me. As a family and fully woman owned company, we understand the importance of the products you feed your family. A commitment to nature and humanity is at the core of our beliefs. We stand behind the idea that healthy CAN be better tasting, and that meals spent around the family table are NOT a thing of the past.”
Today, KenChaux brand rice products are appearing on store shelves throughout Louisiana and will soon go beyond state lines.
Bastrop Super Foods, Big Star, Captain Avery Seafood Market, Chauvin Grocery, Fiesta Nutrition Center, For His Temple Family Foods, Gibson Natural Grocer, Harvest Foods, Mac’s Fresh Market, Sav-U-Mor Grocery & Hardware, Vieux Carré Market and Whole Foods Market.
“KenChaux started as a simple idea. Growing rice and sourcing from local and regional farmers to produce the best rice we could, was, well … part of our nature,” Meryl commented. “To us, rice is not just rice. Doing the Rice Thing – Right is part of our KenChaux rice brand heritage. We currently have more certifications and favorable product attributes than any other organic white or brown rice on the market.
As KenChaux CEO and founder, I believe that the greatest influence on the organic trend is that it’s become synonymous with better quality. Understanding the organic/natural consumer is deeper than demographics, it’s about lifestyle and beliefs.
Through active involvement in rice research and the innovation of the rice business, our company will remain dedicated to working with local agriculture research facilities to develop new varieties that not only perform well in the field but are also naturally organic, healthy and tasty to eat!
The KenChaux brand name commemorates my father and mentor, Elton Kennedy and company family friend and mentor, Frank Godchaux. From the first day I started working in the family business, I’ve been privileged to be mentored by these two great men. What they have contributed to the rice industry speaks for itself. What I’ve always admired most is their tenacity, grit, and hard work. It’s only fitting and out of complete respect that I named our first branded products after them.
A circle surrounds the KenChaux logo to symbolize our farm to table or full circle approach to doing business. Our partnerships with conventional and organic farmers are more than just business relationships. We truly believe that they are stewards of the land. My family and our employees are and will remain dedicated to sustainable agriculture, precision GPS leveling, fertility management, and water conservation programs, and we only work with others who have these same ethics. We will remain committed to ensuring the highest quality of rice possible from farm to table to align with our customers’ values.
Egrets are native to rice fields, and you can spot them nearly every day. Rice fields create a natural habitat for all types of birds and animals and serve as a resting ground for ducks, geese, and other migrating birds. At KenChaux, we believe in a future world that is truly sustainable. A world we can feel blessed to live in…We’re truly committed to creating better food that supports a better world for all of God’s creation.
We developed the KenChaux brand based on a lofty goal: take a little grain and make a big difference in the world. We see it as our responsibility to better the lives of our customers, employees, the communities we call home and the markets we enter in the future. If we can achieve this while bettering the environment, then that’s even better!
“A commitment to humanity and nature is at the core of our beliefs, and it’s why we can proudly say we’re Doing the Rice Thing – Right!” ~ Meryl Kennedy, KenChaux CEO
KENCHAUX HUNGER PROJECT – GIVING BACK
When Meryl began developing a Kennedy organic and natural rice brand, she spent a lot of time with respected mentors, peers and friends to bounce ideas around. A statement that always stood out in her mind was when someone said, “I hope you find a way to give back.” It inspired her to search for a compelling way that KenChaux could do just that.
Rice, one of the most widely consumed foods today, has been feeding people for over 5,000 years. Currently, 842 million people throughout the world face hunger every day. 49% of all northeast Louisiana households live below the poverty threshold and are unable to afford healthy food to feed their families.
A friend told her about Feeding Children Everywhere, a social charity that coordinates Hunger Projects to mobilize volunteers to provide healthy meals to hungry children and families in local communities. After learning more, getting KenChaux involved with the charity made perfect sense.
Plans are in the works for KenChaux to host its first HUNGER PROJECT in September to celebrate National Rice Month’s 25th Anniversary. The PROJECT will be hosted locally in conjunction with the Food Bank and the United Way of Northeast Louisiana.
“We will take an active role in providing the healthiest meals possible for children and families in the communities we touch, both now and in the future,” Meryl shared. “It seems natural to host our first HUNGER PROJECT here at home. Look for more details in the near future. We encourage our northeast Louisiana friends and neighbors to get involved in giving back. Together we can all make a difference.”
GET CONNECTED WITH KENCHAUX TO STAY IN THE KNOW ABOUT NEW PRODUCTS, HUNGER PROJECTS, COOKING TIPS AND ALL THINGS RICE!